Successfully representing Native Americans in the development, implementation and enforcement of Tribal Environmental and Natural Resource Law
Native Americans face unique legal challenges that are becoming ever more complex in today’s changing world. We pride ourselves on our historic work with tribal leaders, program staff, and reservation attorneys across the country to problem-solve and identify innovative solutions to both new and age-old problems.
For more than 30 years, our attorneys have relied upon their unparalleled experience to navigate – and where necessary, to pave the way – through the complicated terrain that lies at the crossroads of federal, tribal, and state laws and their associated regulations. By understanding the unique nature of Indian law, our attorneys are positioned to meet the diverse needs and interests of Native American tribes, tribal business enterprises, and other tribal instrumentalities. This unique expertise is valuable not only for our tribal clients, but also for non-tribal clients who seek to conduct business in Indian Country.
Our goal is to resolve matters whenever possible, in the most cost effective way, by working collaboratively with federal agencies, local governments, and private entities. However, when a cooperative approach is not possible, our attorneys are not reluctant to utilize their extensive experience in representing Tribal governments in environmental and natural resource litigation. We have successfully represented tribes in federal district courts, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court, tribal courts, and administrative agencies.
For more information, select one of the topics listed below.
We draw upon the skills and expertise of attorneys throughout the firm to provide a wide range of legal services to tribes and tribal members, including:
- Tribal sovereignty and governance;
- Jurisdiction and venue matters;
- Drafting tribal laws, ordinances, and resolutions;
- Enforcement of Tribal environmental laws;
- Legislative counseling and advocacy;
- Tribal business regulatory compliance;
- Real estate, land use, and fee-to-trust transactions;
- Construction projects on tribal lands;
- Government permits and approvals;
- Labor and employment issues; and
- Public and media relations.
Tribal Environmental & Natural Resources Law
Our extensive tribal experience has enabled us to serve as Special Environmental Counsel to tribal governments on a broad array of environmental, natural resource, and cultural issues, including:
- Tribal environmental and natural resource program development;
- Tribal hunting, fishing and gathering rights, and reserved water rights;
- Cultural resource and sacred site protection;
- Natural resource damage claims and Tribal service loss matters;
- Treatment-as-state status under the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act;
- Federal and Tribal Superfund cleanup actions;
- Tribal brownfield program development and enforcement redevelopment;
- Intergovernmental cooperative agreements and state-tribal compacts;
- National Environmental Policy Act compliance;
- Federal environmental grants and funding; and
- Pollution prevention in economic development.
Special Environmental Counsel Memorandums
Articles and Presentations
Our attorneys regularly author articles and make presentations to local, regional, and national audiences on issues of concern to Native Americans.
Our Tribal Practice Group conducts an annual Tribal Environmental Seminar (TES) for Tribal leaders, Tribal environmental program managers, and in-house counsel. Themes for our previous TES have included the following:
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
We represent the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the plaintiff in litigation under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, known as the federal Superfund Act) against Teck Metals, Ltd. regarding environmental contamination in the Columbia River. On December 14, 2012, the federal district court ruled that the Tribes and its co-plaintiff, the State of Washington, had prevailed in establishing that Teck Metals, Ltd. is jointly and severally liable to the Tribes and State for past and future response costs at the UCR site. The Tribes has been awarded its response costs, including attorneys fees incurred in proving Teck’s liability. This litigation is continuing and the trial court will address natural resource damages in a future phase.