< Back to H.R. 5498 (106th Congress, 1999–2000)

Text of To permit landowners to assert otherwise available State law defenses against real property claims by Indian tribes.

This bill was introduced on October 18, 2000, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Oct 18, 2000 (Introduced).

Source: GPO

HR 5498 IH

106th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 5498

To permit landowners to assert otherwise available State law defenses against real property claims by Indian tribes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

October 18, 2000

Mr. EWING introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Resources


A BILL

To permit landowners to assert otherwise available State law defenses against real property claims by Indian tribes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. DEFENSES TO INDIAN CLAIMS.

    Except as provided in section 2, in any action or claim by or on behalf of an Indian tribe to enforce a real property right, or otherwise asserting a claim of Indian title or right regarding real property, the defendant may assert any affirmative defense that would be available under State law to a defendant opposing an analogous action or claim that does not involve an Indian tribe.

SEC. 2. EXCEPTION FOR GOVERNMENTAL DEFENDANTS.

    Section 1 shall not apply to any action or claim against a governmental entity with respect to land that is located within sovereign Indian country.

SEC. 3. RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.

    (a) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in subsection (b), this Act shall be construed and applied without regard to the interpretive judicial canon that remaining ambiguities should be resolved in favor of the Indians when standard tools of statutory construction leave no indication as to the meaning of an Indian treaty or statute.

    (b) EXCEPTION- Subsection (a) shall not apply to judicial interpretation of an Indian treaty with respect to a determination of whether land was reserved or set aside by the Federal Government for the use of an Indian tribe as Indian land.

SEC. 4. DEFINITIONS.

    As used in this Act:

      (1) INDIAN TRIBE- The term ‘Indian tribe’ means any tribe, band, nation, pueblo, village, or community that is recognized by the Secretary of the Interior pursuant to section 102 of the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act of 1994 (25 U.S.C. 479a).

      (2) SOVEREIGN INDIAN COUNTRY- The term ‘sovereign Indian country’ means land--

        (A) that is rightfully owned by, or is held in trust by the Federal Government for, an Indian tribe;

        (B) that was reserved or set aside for the use of the Indian tribe as Indian land by the Federal Government, and is either--

          (i) outside the exterior geographical limits of any State; or

          (ii) within the exterior geographical limits of a State that subsequently either--

            (I) acknowledged Indian title to the land involved when the land was made a part of the State, if that State is one of the original 13 States to form the United States; or

            (II) provided, either in the Act providing for the State’s admission to the United States or in the State’s first constitution, that all lands held by Indians within the State shall remain under the jurisdiction and control of the United States, in accordance with article I, section 8, clause 17 of the Constitution of the United States, if that State were admitted to the United States after 1790; and

        (C) for which the Indian title has not been extinguished or the jurisdictional reservation revoked.

SEC. 5. ATTORNEYS FEES.

    (a) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in subsection (b), in any action or proceeding that is subject to this Act, the court shall allow the prevailing party a reasonable attorney’s fee with respect to a claim presented by the opposing party that was frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation, or that the opposing party continued to litigate after it clearly became so. A claim shall be deemed--

      (1) legally frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation only if it rests upon a legal theory that was clearly unavailable under existing case law; and

      (2) factually frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation only if its proponent knew or should have known of those facts that would require judgment for the opposing party as a matter of law.

    (b) EXCEPTION- No attorney’s fee shall be assessed under subsection (a) against an Indian tribe seeking to enforce a right to an interest in land if the court determines that the land involved is located within sovereign Indian country.

SEC. 6. TIMING OF APPLICATION.

    This Act shall apply to any action, claim, or right described in section 1 that is pending, filed, or continuing on or after the date of enactment of this Act, other than a final money damages judgment to which no person has a right to raise a challenge by any available procedure.