We successfully represent Tribes, tribal governments, tribal employees and tribal members in a wide variety of court proceedings. We defend against attempts to attack tribal sovereignty and jurisdiction and strongly advocate for those interests.

We represent tribes in contract actions and gaming-related disputes. We represent tribes in extremely complex treaty rights litigation, and recently participated in a 23-day federal court trial involving ocean treaty fishing rights. We have litigated hundreds of Indian Child Welfare Act cases for many different tribal clients in many different states. We handle a wide range of appellate cases in state and federal courts in different states and in federal appellate circuits. Our firm has over 30 reported appellate decisions on an array of Indian law issues.

Treaty rights
ICWA
Natural resources
Indian gaming
Jurisdictional disputes
Federal funding of tribes
Contract disputes
Treaty rights

Dorsay & Easton specializes in complex litigation involving Indian law issues, primarily in federal courts. We recently completed nine years litigating an attempt to re-open the Samish Tribe’s 1970’s off-reservation treaty fishing rights, including multiple trips to the Ninth Circuit.

We have represented the Hoh Tribe in a number of sub-proceedings in the long-standing U.S. v. Washington federal court off-reservation treaty fishing rights litigation. This court case and its ongoing multiple sub-proceedings involve complex historical and legal issues that require hundreds of exhibits and documents and many expert witnesses, including historians, anthropologists, archeologists, linguists, biologists and other experts as well as tribal witnesses.

We recently participated along with primary parties Quileute and Quinault Tribes in a 23-day federal court trial to establish the right of Treaty of Olympia Tribes to fish out in the Pacific ocean beyond state jurisdiction.

Representative Cases

United States v. Washington (“Samish”), 19 F.Supp. 3d 1317 (W.D. Wash. 2002), rev’d, 394 F.3d 1152 (9th Cir. 2005), on remand, 20 F.Supp. 3d 899 (W.D.Wash. 2008), aff’d on other grounds, 593 F.3d 790 (9th Cir. En Banc 2010).

United States v. Washington, 129 F.Supp.3d 1069 (W.D.Wash. 2015), aff’d, Makah Indian Tribe v. Quileute Indian Tribe, 873 F.3d 1157 (9th Cir. 2017).

Oregon v. Nanpooya, Sr., No. G86-88 (Or.Dist.Ct., Wallowa C’ty, April 29, 1987), 14 Indian Law Reporter 5072.

More detail on treaty rights cases >

ICWA

We have extensive experience representing Indian tribes, parents, and children in over 20 different states in cases arising under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). We have represented over 15 different tribes in complex ICWA cases. The firm specializes in handling difficult ICWA litigation at any level.

Representative Cases

In re Adoption of T.A.W., 383 P.3d 492 (Wash. 2016). Appeared as Amicus on behalf of the Samish Indian Nation.  

Matter of Adoption of Halloway, 732 P.2d 962(Sup. Ct., Utah, 1986).

Johnson v. Jones, Chief Judge, Prairie Island Mdewakanton Dakota Community, No.6:05-CV-1256-Orl-22KRS (Nov.3, 2005), U.S. Dist. Ct., Fla., Middle Dist. [33 Indian L. Rep.3009] (2006).

More on ICWA cases >

Natural resources

Dorsay & Easton has advised tribes on a wide variety of complex natural resource and environmental matters, including but not limited to timber sales, fill lands disputes, renewable energy projects, hazardous waste matters, permitting issues, development and implementation of water and air quality standards, Forest Stewardship Certification, and the restoration of tribal land bases. We have deep experience in Indian forestry, NEPA and the Endangered Species Act, and have successfully advised the productive use of the most heavily regulated Indian forest in the Nation. We emphasize cooperative negotiation yet litigate where necessary.

We helped negotiate a conservation trust with federal, state and private environmental organizations arising out of the “New Carissa” contamination settlement whereby 7000 acres of forest land was transferred to ownership of the Siletz Tribe under the condition that the Tribe, through a trust arrangement, manage the property primarily for marbled murrelet habitat enhancement. The firm has also been involved in wildlife mitigation negotiations with the Bonneville Power Administration for purchase and operation of wildlife mitigation sites within the Siletz Tribe’s historical territory. We assisted the Samish Indian Nation on obtaining Huckleberry Island in the San Juan Islands from the State of Washington under a similar conservation arrangement. The firm advises its tribal clients on hazardous waste, NEPA, and other environmental matters.

Representative Cases

Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians v. Fish & Wildlife Comm’n, 260 P.3d 705 (Or.App. 2011)

Cascadia Wildlands v. BIA, 801 F.3d 1105

Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua & Siuslaw Indians v. United States, Civil No: 03-6173-TC. (2003). 

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Indian gaming

The Dorsay & Easton team have litigated Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) issues for several tribes through the Ninth Circuit when Compact negotiations have broken down. We also represent tribes in obtaining and qualifying land for gaming under IGRA.

Representative Cases

Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians v. United States, 841 F.Supp. 1479 (D. Or. 1994), rev’d, 110 F.3d 688 (9th Cir. 1997).

Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians v. State of Oregon, 143 F.3d 481 (9th Cir. 1998)

State ex rel. Dewberry v. Kitzhaber, 210 P.3d 884 (Or. 2009) (tribal amicus).

Tulalip Tribes v. Washington, 783 F.3d 1151 (9th Cir. 2015).

More on IGRA cases >

Jurisdictional disputes

Our team has advised several tribes and are litigating a number of cases involving tribal successorship, namely, which historical tribes a modern day tribe is the legal and political successor to. We routinely defend tribal sovereignty and jurisdiction against federal, state, local and private intrusion. We are currently involved in several efforts to establish and defend tribal history and aboriginal territory against attempted incursion by other tribes. Jurisdiction issues include law enforcement and regulatory authority, retained sovereign jurisdiction, and the interface of state and federal law and regulations with tribal laws and sovereignty. The firm has also advised and litigated on Public Law 280 jurisdiction issues.

Representative Cases

Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians of Oregon v. Employment Dept., 995 P.2d 580, Or. App., 2000.

In the Matter of Cougar Den, Inc., Oregon Dept. of Transportation: Fuels Tax Group, Final Order, OAH Case No. 1102410, Feb. 7, 2012, affirming Ruling on Summary Determination and Proposed Order, Office of Administrative Hearings, State of Oregon, January 9, 2012.

Chance v. Coquille Indian Tribe and Coquille Economic Development Corporation.

More on jurisdictional disputes cases >

Federal funding of tribes

We have represented a number of tribes in funding disputes with the federal government involving federal benefit programs, such as when a federal agency does not adequately fund the tribe, or seeks to remove tribal funding or reallocate it elsewhere. Recovery of money against the United States is difficult under federal law, and we have brought a variety of federal lawsuits to hold federal agencies accountable for their trust responsibility to adequately fund tribes.   

Samish Indian Nation v. Dept. of Interior, W.D. Wash. 2004, 2004 WL 3753251, 2004 WL 3753252.

Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians v. Dept. of Interior, Civ. No. 01-1548-AS (D.Or., settled 2002).

Navajo Nation v. State of New Mexico, No. 86-576-M (D.N.M.); Memorandum Opinion and Order, March 30, 1987, 14 Indian Law Reporter 3047; Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Judgment, July 15, 1991, 18 Indian Law Reporter 3123; aff’d, 975 F.2d 741 (10th Cir. 1992), cert. denied.

More on federal funding cases >

Contract disputes

We represent tribes and their affiliates in contract disputes covering a wide variety of subjects.  Contract disputes are often resolved through direct communication on material topics, including a tribe’s sovereign immunity from suit, where applicable.  We gather all relevant information and explore the possibility and likelihood of achieving a win/win outcome for all parties.  When our clients prefer a more direct resolution, or when negotiations do not present an efficient resolution of disputes, we zealously litigate.

Representative Cases

Samish Indian Nation v. Dept. of Interior, W.D. Wash. 2004, 2004 WL 3753251, 2004 WL 3753252.

Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians v. Dept. of Interior, Civ. No. 01-1548-AS (D.Or., settled 2002).

Navajo Nation v. State of New Mexico, No. 86-576-M (D.N.M.); Memorandum Opinion and Order, March 30, 1987, 14 Indian Law Reporter 3047; Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Judgment, July 15, 1991, 18 Indian Law Reporter 3123; aff’d, 975 F.2d 741 (10th Cir. 1992), cert. denied.

More on contract disputes cases >

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1737 NE Alberta St, Ste 208

Portland, OR 97211

Phone: (503) 790-9060