Resource Protection

Land Claims

Because our firm’s land claim work involves highly complex litigation and negotiation, we have special expertise in the review and analysis of complicated and often overlapping systems of federal, tribal, state and local laws and regulations affecting land tenure. Among our interests are the investigation and development of aboriginal Indian title claims seeking return of traditional tribal lands. Our successes include Thomas Luebben’s work drafting, negotiating and obtaining sponsorship and passage of the 1978 Congressional legislation that returned 14,000 acres of Santa Ana Pueblo aboriginal Indian title land.

Water Rights

We have been involved in major Indian water rights litigation, adjudication and settlement in several western states. Notably, an historic settlement was reached as a result of our work with the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians in support of the tribe’s water-related claims. By act of Congress, the Tribe was ensured access to water resources and substantial compensation in money and land. In addition, our attorneys have extensive experience with the water rights of New Mexico pueblos and with the water rights of allotted landowners.

Oil, Gas & Minerals

We negotiate agreements related to oil and gas development, mining for commodities ranging from gold and copper to gravel, and construction easements. Our expertise also includes right-of-way and borrow pits agreements as well as water supply arrangements.

Environmental Law

As tribal environmental counsel, we regularly advise clients with respect to matters arising under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, the Endangered Species Act, and other federal and state environmental laws. We also assist tribes in developing their own environmental regulations and enforcement capabilities.

Fishing Rights

On behalf of our clients, we have fought assertively for tribal fishing rights for many years. As counsel for Alaska native individuals and villages, we have been involved in a long-running federal district court case involving the Tongass National Forest and subsistence fishing rights in those waters. In 2011, these efforts culminated in the federal district court for the District of Alaska awarding the injunctive relief the subsistence rights holders sought against the United States and its agencies.

Cultural Resources

Our firm represents tribes in the enforcement of state and federal cultural resources protection laws against local governments and developers. We also advise tribes regarding their rights under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, recommending ways to assert and protect traditional use rights in their aboriginal territory.