Tribal sovereign immunity case decided by Alaska Supreme Court

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Alaska Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling dealing with the doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity.

    In the ruling handed down Friday, the high court agreed with a lower court ruling that says an Indian tribe is immune from suit unless Congress has authorized the suit or the tribe has waived its immunity.

    The lawsuit was filed by the Douglas Indian Association against Central Council of Tlingit Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and two of its officers.

    Both federally recognized tribes were eligible to receive tribal transportation funds from the federal government between 2005 and 2012.  Central Council formed a consortium to administer the funds on behalf of individual tribes. The consortium included the Douglas Indian Association.

    The association complained that the consortium did not undertake any of its transportation projects or use any of its funds for its benefit.  The association withdrew from the consortium in January of 2012.  It asked Central Council to remit its funds, which wasn't done.  Central Council said the funds were maintained in a  separate savings account and had not been expended, although an accounting was no provided.  At stake in the case was about a million dollars.

     

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