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Indian Law Has Two Big Wins

The recent ruling in Shivwits Band of Paiutes, et al. v. Tamra Borchardt-Slayton,4:20-CV-00009-DN-PK (D. Utah 2021) determines that the Shivwits and Kanosh Bands of Paiutes have authority to make a Tribal Council Chairperson accountable in federal court for actions outside the scope of her duties in violation of the Indian Civil Rights Act. The Shivwits and Kanosh Bands were compelled to file a federal lawsuit against Chairwoman Tamra Borchardt-Slayton (Borchardt-Slayton)to stop her unilateral actions violating federal law. In response to the Bands’ Complaint, Borchardt-Slayton filed a Moton to Dismiss. On January 6, 2021, the US District Court for the District of Utah issued an Order denying Borchardt-Slayton’s Motion to Dismiss. In the Order, the Court found that the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah is not a necessary party to the litigation; Borchardt-Slayton is not immune from suit due to sovereign immunity; and Borchardt-Slayton must answer the complaint filed by the Shivwits and Kanosh Bands. We are honored to help the Shivwits and Kanosh Bands of Paiutes protect their sovereign status affirmed by Congress in 1980 when the federal trust responsibility and the Bands’ rights under federal law were restored by the Paiute Restoration Act.

The Court’s Order is available here:

Also, on August 20, 2020, the Paiute Tribal Court of Appeals held in Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah Tribal Council v. Carmen Clark, Corrina Bow, and Delvern Pikyavit,APP-2019-01 (PITU Ct. App, 2020) that Chairperson Borchardt-Slayton’s (Borchardt-Slayton)actions to remove Chairwoman Corrina Bow, Vice-Chairman Delvern Pikyavit, and Chairwoman Clark from the Tribal Council were unconstitutional. This appellate court victory makes clear that Borchardt-Slayton’s effort to retaliate against respected Shivwits and Kanosh Band elders was wrong—“the removal process did not satisfy the Tribe’s Constitution.”  The decision meant that the Shivwits and Kanosh Band Tribal Council representatives were immediately reinstated to their positions on the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah Tribal Council. Borchardt-Slayton had denied open hearings as required by the Tribe’s Constitution and removed the elected Band leaders without a valid vote.

We were pleased to fight against these injustices to the Bands and their elected Band leaders and stand up against violations of the Tribal Constitution.

The Court’s Order is available here: