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    Indian Law (American)


    Pillsbury's Indian Law practice is nationally ranked by 2011 Chambers USA, a leading independent guide that interviews clients to compile its rankings.

    Pillsbury has substantial experience in matters involving Indian Law, representing Indian tribes as well as private companies doing business in Indian country.

    Pillsbury’s Indian Law practice group teams with our other practice areas to offer clients the resources of a broad range of disciplines including tribal and corporate governance, communications and broadband infrastructure, project finance, securities, employment, tax, construction, environmental and intellectual property issues, among many others. We represent tribal and non tribal clients in such matters as financing casino and other projects on Indian land, development and leasing of mineral rights, as well as litigation and other dispute resolution involving Indian tribes.

    Because of the unique relationship between Indian tribes and the federal government, we have integrated our Indian Law practice group into our regulatory and public policy practice sections. Our regulatory and public policy attorneys have significant experience working with the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs on a variety of tribal matters, including Indian gaming legislation and policy, the process for federal recognition and the taking of land into trust, as well as the protection of Indian tribes’ environmental and cultural resources.

    Examples of our Indian Law experience include:

    Tribal Governance
    • Drafting and advising with regard to tribal constitutions, as well as ordinances related to tribal and corporate governance;
    • Representing tribe in connection with application for federal recognition;
    • Assisting tribe in establishing tribal court and dispute resolution systems;
    • Drafting ordinances and resolutions related to elections, enrollment, and allocation of gaming revenues;
    • Advising tribes on Public Law 280 issues related to criminal jurisdiction on tribal land; and
    • Advising tribes on enrollment and disenrollment issues.

    Representing Companies Doing Business with Tribes
    • Representing banks in commercial financings for Indian tribes;
    • Representing private businesses in the leasing and development of mineral rights on tribal land;
    • Advising energy and waste management companies in connection with the siting of power plants and waste facilities on tribal land;
    • Representing landowner in connection with transfer of land to Indian tribe;
    • Advising financial services company in structuring business relationship with Indian tribe and in negotiating agreements with tribal chartered corporation;
    • Representing developer in connection with residential housing development on lands to be sold to tribe; and
    • On behalf of mining company, negotiating settlement agreement with U.S. EPA that involves preparation of a special environmental study in consultation with two Indian tribes.

    Project Development and Commercial Finance
    • Representing tribes in process for taking land into federal trust;
    • Assisting tribes in contract negotiations with developers, commercial banks and equipment vendors;
    • Advising tribes on construction of casino expansion and casino-hotel projects, including negotiation and drafting of construction contracts;
    • Representing tribe in securities offering for financing casino expansion project;
    • Representing tribes in commercial loan transactions; and
    • Representing tribe on purchase of brewery operation.

    • Negotiating Class III Gaming Compacts, on behalf of Indian tribes, with the State of California;
    • Advising tribes on compact interpretation and implementation issues, disputes, and litigation with state and federal gaming authorities;
    • Advising tribes on compliance with federal rules and regulations, including minimum internal control standards;
    • Counseling tribal gaming regulatory agencies on investigations and on compliance with tribal gaming ordinances;
    • Defending tribes against the U.S. government’s allegations that certain gaming operations violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and the Johnson Act;
    • Defending tribe against claims by casino financing company and gaming machine vendors; and
    • Defending tribe and its casino against patrons’ tort claims arising from gaming operation.

    Litigation and Dispute Resolution
    • Defending a tribe’s leaders in a lawsuit alleging claims of misappropriation, defamation and slander;
    • Defending Bureau of Indian Affairs' decision to take land in trust for tribal client against State of California's appeal to the Interior Board of Indian Appeals;
    • Defending tribe and its casino against wrongful termination and related claims by former employees;
    • Defending tribes against the U.S. government’s allegations that certain gaming operations violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and the Johnson Act;
    • Defending a tribe against claims by financing company and gaming machine vendors;
    • Defending tribes against casino patrons’ tort claim and establishing tort claims procedure for resolution of patron claims; and
    • Advising tribe regarding construction claims and defending tribe against same.

    Employment and Labor
    • Representing tribe in negotiating first collective bargaining agreement between a tribe and a labor union in California;
    • Drafting tribal business policies and procedures, including human resource rules, regulations and employee handbooks;
    • Advising tribes and casino management on employee relations issues, disputes and litigation; and
    • Defending a tribe and its casino against wrongful termination and related claims by former employees.

    Environmental and Cultural Resources
    • Intervening on behalf of tribe in the Lake Oroville (California) relicensing proceeding before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, with comments arguing that greater protection is needed for tribe’s cultural resources impacted by project;
    • Providing environmental and natural resource development advice for a southwestern Indian tribe;
    • Negotiating ocean and river fisheries consent decrees with respect to several Pacific Northwest tribes;
    • Negotiating resolution of Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Endangered Species Act issues respecting tribes’ cultural, religious and subsistence uses; and
    • Drafting tribal ordinances related to water quality, solid waste disposal and off-reservation environmental impacts.

    • Working with tribes to plan and secure federal authorizations to build and expand native-owned communications facilities to meet the needs of Indian Country, including a radio station that has one of the largest coverage areas in the U. S. and serves its native audience with news, information, education, entertainment, and by preserving native language;
    • Assisting companies seeking federal grants and loans to construct broadband facilities on Indian lands; and
    • Working with companies to secure state and federal approvals to provide telecommunications services on Indian lands.

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