Dear Tribal Family,
Wednesday, August 24th, 2016 the U.S. Justice Department filed a partial “motion to reconsider” the ruling by Judge William Young on July 28.
As we know, Judge Young remanded the case back to the Department of Interior because, in his view, the Tribe could not have been under “federal jurisdiction” in 1934 because it was not “federally recognized” at that time.
The motion seeks to clarify why the judge ruled on an aspect of the IRA or Indian Reorganization Act that was not part of the Interior Department Record-Of-Decision, and why the judge’s ruling equated “federal jurisdiction” with “federal recognition.”
We respectfully but strongly disagree with Judge Young’s ruling. We are encouraged that in the matter of the Cowlitz Tribe decision, court ruled that there is indeed a distinction between “federal recognition” and “federal jurisdiction.” The appellate justices affirmed in that matter the Interior Department’s interpretation of the law. There is indeed a very clear distinction between ‘federal jurisdiction’ and formal ‘federal recognition’ — a process that didn’t even exist at the time IRA was passed by Congress.
It’s re-assuring because we have always argued that our Land-In-Trust application qualifies under ‘federal jurisdiction’ as well as the fact that our people were indeed residing on a reservation before 1934.
This action, coupled with the Tribal Council’s decision to file a motion to intervene, will serve to strengthen our case as we will have a more direct role in defending our lands, shoulder to shoulder with the U.S. Department of Interior.
Nobody can explain the importance of our ancestral homeland and its significance to our survival better than we can. While those who are financing this suit, brought forth by the plaintiffs of East Taunton, are principally interested in protecting their casino interests, our goal is to protect the sovereignty of our people.