Claim/Issue Preclusion

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NRS | Native Americans | Current Work of NRS Involving Indian Law Litigation

The Creek Nation Decision

In 1964, the Court of Claims ruled that particular claims filed under Clauses (3) and (5) of Section 2 of the ICCA were not barred by the doctrine of res judicata by virtue of the adjudication of essentially the same claims under a prior special jurisdictional act, but that they were barred by the doctrine of collateral estoppel (issue preclusion). Creek Nation v. United States, 168 Ct. Cl. 512 (1964).

The 1980's

In 1984, the White Mountain Apache Tribe filed suit in Federal District Court in Arizona seeking a declaratory judgment that the Tribe had title to approximately 16,000 acres of Forest Service land (located in the Apache-Sitgreaves Forest adjoining the northern boundary of the White Mountain Apache Reservation) which had allegedly been excluded from the Reservation by an 1887 erroneous survey. In affirming the dismissal of the suit, the Ninth Circuit held that this claim should have been raised in the aboriginal title phase of the Tribe's ICCA case and that the final judgment in favor of the Tribe in this phase of the ICCA case (pursuant to a stipulated settlement) barred the erroneous survey claim under the doctrine of res judicata. White Mountain Apache Tribe v. Hodel, 784 F.2d 921, 925-26 (9th Cir. 1986).

In 1987, the Tenth Circuit issued an opinion concerning whether a Federal District Court had jurisdiction to award declaratory relief to the Navajo Tribe which contended that land added to the Reservation by a 1909 Executive Order and later returned to the public domain by Executive Order was still part of the Reservation. The Tenth Circuit ruled the District Court had no jurisdiction because this claim arose prior to August 13, 1946 and could and should have been bought under the ICCA. The Circuit held that the ICCA was the "exclusive remedy" for tribal claims against the United States which arose prior to August 13, 1946. Navajo Tribe of Indians v. State of New Mexico, 809 F.2d 1455, 1460-68 (10th Cir. 1987).


Updated May 12, 2015

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