Indian Law

Crowley Fleck’s commitment to quality is no more evident than in our Indian Law team, which has a national reputation. Our Indian Law attorneys have extensive experience helping our clients navigate the unique and complex issues associated with transactions involving Indian tribes and their members. Additionally, we represent clients in federal, state, and tribal courts litigating Indian law matters.

Comprehensive Indian Law Practice

Our Indian Law team’s knowledge and experience encompasses all aspects of Indian law, including the following areas:

  • Litigation in federal, state, and tribal courts, including jurisdictional challenges
  • Natural resource development agreements (Indian Mineral Development Act (IMDA), oil and gas leasing, wind lease agreements)
  • Lending to tribes and their members
  • Business leases with tribes and their members
  • Right-of- way acquisition and renewal
  • Condemnation of rights-of-way
  • Cultural relations and historic preservation disputes
  • Tribal Employment Rights Ordinances (TERO) proceedings and disputes
  • Taxation disputes

Agreements With Tribes

All agreements involving Indian tribes and their related entities have similar core issues that must be addressed, regardless of the nature of the underlying transaction. In each case, the following issues frequently arise:

  • Sovereign Immunity. An Indian tribe and its entities organized under tribal law enjoy sovereign immunity. Obtaining a limited waiver of this immunity is essential.
  • Choice of Law. Tribal codes typically exclude state law as a source of authority, applying only federal law and tribal codes, tribal case law, and oral history and custom. An appropriate choice of law provision is important with any Tribal agreement.
  • Future Taxation and Ordinances. As sovereigns, tribes possess the power to tax and enact ordinances that may adversely affect their contracting counterparts. It is important to address this power when negotiating with a Tribe.
  • Indemnity. Along with a waiver of tribal sovereign immunity, tribal indemnity provisions are important to obtain.
  • Dispute Resolution. Federal court jurisdiction over contracts involving Indian tribes is limited. Typically state and tribal courts have concurrent jurisdiction over contractual disputes and neither party may be comfortable in those forums. Providing for alternative dispute resolution is a common solution to this problem.
  • TERO. To the extent any business activities are conducted on the reservation, the tribe may require compliance with TERO and we assist our clients address the unique issues associated with TERO.

Our extensive experience with transactions involving business agreements, financing and lending, natural resources development, mineral leasing, divestiture and acquisition matters, and related litigation allows us to provide our clients with the representation they need when working with Indian tribes or undertaking on-reservation activities.

Agreements With Tribal Members

Agreements with individual Indians involving trust lands are highly regulated and supervised by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Our attorneys are regularly involved with such transactions and have a wealth of experience working with the BIA.