Court upholds tribal election in fight over funds

A federal appeals court is telling an Indian tribal faction it can’t block the distribution of money that Congress allocated to settle land claims in a vast Western U.S. area including California’s Death Valley and most of what’s now Nevada.

The court in Washington, D.C., issued an order Tuesday recognizing the election last year of a Timbisha Shoshone tribal council that favors accepting money set aside by a federal Indian claims commission in 1977 and the Western Shoshone Claims Distribution Act of 2004.

Indian Law Resource Center head Robert Coulter in Helena, Mont., said the losing faction may ask the court to reconsider or ask the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case.

Coulter sides with the faction, claiming the government is taking tribal property without compensation and due process.

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