To the editor,
The Idaho State Journal recently printed an article about how an individual land owner prevailed in the most recent ruling in an on-going jurisdictional dispute. It is true that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that Evans does not have to exhaust his remedies in Tribal Court before asking the federal court to decide whether the Tribes has jurisdiction over his house building activity, however, it is not true that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the Tribes lacked jurisdiction over Evans’ property for all purposes or all other non-Indian owned fee land on the reservation.
It is disingenuous to spin the decision as determining the jurisdictional question for all activities on all fee land on the Reservation. The court simply decided that Evans did not have to exhaust Tribal Court remedies before going to federal court. It did not finally settle the jurisdictional question for all land on the reservation or even all activities on Evans’ land.
An honest reading of the Court of Appeals decision makes it clear that the Court decided the question of Tribal Court exhaustion and not ultimate jurisdiction. In fact, the Court of Appeals remanded the case to Judge Winmill to decide whether the Tribes actually have jurisdiction. Recognizing that litigation steps in Tribal Court need not be exhausted, the Tribes voluntarily dismissed the claims. The jurisdictional question is now up to Judge Winmill.
The Tribes question why this vocal minority of former Power County Commissioners, politicos, and FMC cronies is frantic about suppressing the Tribes’ voice. The Tribes have mostly stood alone in trying to protect the environment for our children’s children from the FMC Superfund site contamination.
Shoshone-Bannock Tribe Public Affairs Manager
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