Oklahoma's Citizen Potawatomie Nation loses federal lawsuit

CHRIS CASTEEL, Washington Bureau Modified: June 16, 2009 at 4:23 am •  Published: June 16, 2009
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WASHINGTON — An Oklahoma tribe lost its federal lawsuit here over the distribution of federal aid.

The Citizen Potawatomie Nation sued the U.S. Interior Department, claiming the division of funds among five Oklahoma tribes shouldn’t rely continuously on 1988 information about tribal land and population. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler disagreed with the tribe and ruled for the Interior Department.

The Citizen Potawatomie Nation signed a deal with four other Shawnee Agency Tribes on a funding formula to divide federal money using factors such as total tribal enrollment, tribal population in each tribe’s area of jurisdiction and the amount of trust land held by each tribe in its jurisdiction.

Under that agreement, information from 1988 was used for each tribe. The Citizen Potawatomie Nation argued to the Interior Board of Indian Appeals that the information should be updated yearly, but the board rejected the tribe’s claim. Kessler upheld the board’s decision.