International Law

Gabe Galanda Publishes Re: Local/Global Native Prisoners' Religious Rights Movement

Gabriel Galanda published “To Geneva With Love: Native Prisoners’ Religious Rights Movement Goes Global.” The article appears in the May edition of King County’s Bar Bulletin, which is themed “Curtain.” The article begins with a citation to a famous U.S. Supreme Court prisoners’ rights case:

There is no iron curtain drawn be- tween the Constitution and the prisons of this country.” Nor is there an iron curtain drawn between international human rights norms and American prisons, especially insofar as Native American prisoners — or internationally speaking, American indigenous prisoners — are concerned.

Gabe goes on to explain how a local, grassroots, Native prisoners’ religious rights advocacy movement has ascended to national and international heights. He details various local, national and international legal and political interventions by the Native prisoners’ rights non-profit, Huy, and its allies, focusing on its advocacy via the United Nations:

By 2013, Huy aligned with longtime Native religious rights warriors, the Native American Rights Fund in Denver and the American Civil Liberties Union’s national and local chapters, to grieve the religious plight of Native inmates in state prisons throughout the United States to even higher powers. That coalition filed letters of allegation with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as the U.N. Human Rights Committee . . .

In June 2013, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, joined by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, wrote the U.S. State Department, requesting that within 60 days the government respond to the Huy coalition’s allegations and “provide any additional information it deems relevant to the situation.” The special rapporteurs posed a series of questions, including: san-quentin-sweat-lodge-by-nancy-mullane

What measures exist to ensure the protection of the religious freedoms of Native American prisoners in state and local prisons? Specifically, what legal, policy or programmatic actions, if any, have federal and state Government authorities taken to ensure that Native American prisoners are able to engage in religious ceremonies and traditional practices as well as have access to religious items in state and local prisons?

Almost a year later, the State Department has yet to respond in any way to the U.N. special rapporteurs.

The United States’ continued silence is indicative of its and other nations’ failure to respect the right of American indigenous prisoners to freely exercise their religion, and to afford those prisoners with effective remedies when state correctional agencies and officers violate their rights.

Gabriel “Gabe” Galanda is the Managing Partner at Galanda Broadman. He is an enrolled member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes of Covelo, California, and the founder of Huy ( and Chairman of the Huy Board of Advisors. Gabe can be reached at 206.300.7801 or

Gabe Galanda Stumps Against Interior's Land Buy Back; Serves as Professor in Residence

This week, Gabe Galanda visited the University of Arizona College of Law in Tucson for a speech at the 2nd Annual Tribal Lands Conference, and a Professorship in Residence at the Indigenous Peoples Law & Policy Program. Gabe's speech at the Conference, which was themed "The Cobell Settlement Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations," was titled: "The Perils of Indian Law Buy Back." He explained that "while Interior’s plan disclaims any facilitation of forced sales under 25 U.S.C. 2204(a), the $1.55 Billion in 'buy back' monies will catalyze controversial intra-tribal forced sales." photo 2-1

Gabe further explained how any such forced sale could violate various federal laws, including the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the United States' trust fiduciary duty at common law, as well as international human rights law, including Articles 1 and 10 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Article 11 of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. His slides are available here, and his prior published commentaries are here.

During his Professorship in Residence, Gabe engaged indigenous law students during a program moderated by Dean Marc Miller, in the development series called "A Conversation With...," which features prominent law school alumni. He also delivered a lecture to Professor Ray Austin's class titled, "Tribal Economic Development: Looking Through the Prism of Indian Taxation & Sovereign Immunity."

In his lecture, Gabe explained very recent developments in federal Indian law regarding the powers of tribal taxation, sovereign immunity and territorial authority. His slides are available here.

Gabriel “Gabe” Galanda is the Managing Partner of Galanda Broadman PLLC, of Seattle, an American Indian owned law firm. He is an enrolled member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes of Covelo, California. Gabe can be reached at 206.300.7801 or

Tribal Disenrollment Defense Lawyers

We are proud to represent the Nooksack 306 and the Grand Ronde descendants of Chief Tumulth, as well as other American Indian citizens facing disenrollment. We do not prosecute disenrollment actions; we defend against them. Our sworn duty is to ensure that fundamental human rights and guaranteed civil rights are honored during any disenrollment actions. Too frequently, they are not.

Our work on behalf of the Nooksack 306 is featured here on Turtle Talk, and our work for the Chief Tumulth descendants can be found here.

Galanda Broadman is an American Indian owned firm dedicated to advancing tribal legal rights and Indian business interests. The firm represents tribal governments, businesses and members in critical litigation, business and regulatory matters, especially in the areas of Indian Treaty rights, tribal sovereignty, taxation, commerce, personal injury, and human/civil rights.

There is no more critical a legal situation to an American Indian than a disenrollment action. Legal counsel is almost certainly required. If you facing disenrollment, call the firm's Managing Partner Gabe Galanda to see if we can help.

Gabe Galanda Named Arizona IPLP Alumni Association Chair

Gabe Galanda has been named the inaugural Chair of the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program (IPLP)'s Alumni Association. The Association will be launched at the University of Arizona College of Law's Homecoming Celebration on November 9, 2013.

Arizona Law has long been renowned for its expertise in Indigenous Peoples law. Over the last decade, the IPLP Program has built upon that foundation, and Arizona Law is now the only school offering all three law degrees (JD, LLM, and SJD) with a concentration in Indigenous Peoples law. Together, these programs provide the world's most advanced training in the field. The program's reputation and the work of IPLP faculty, staff, alumni and students reach around the globe and make a difference in the lives of Indigenous Peoples in the United States and across the world.

Gabriel "Gabe" Galanda is a partner at Galanda Broadman PLLC, of Seattle, an American Indian owned law firm.  He is an enrolled member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes of Covelo, California.  Gabe can be reached at 206.691.3631 or

Nez Perce v. Megaloads: Another Treaty-Based Consultation Victory

On September 12, an Idaho federal district court stopped massive industrial equipment headed for the Alberta Tar Sands -- now commonly known as the Megaloads -- from traversing Nez Perce Treaty-protected ceded lands. The federal court's decision affirms the power of Indian Treaties and the intrinsic consultation requirements of those sacred pacts. Article III of the Treaty with the Nez Perces of 1855 reserved for Nez Perce Indians the “right of taking fish at all usual and accustomed places” and “the privilege of hunting . . . upon open and unclaimed land.” As the court explained: "Although the Nez Perce ceded the lands now encompassing the Nez Perce Clearwater National Forests to the United States, 'they did not relinquish rights to hunt, fish, and gather, or to practice traditional religious and cultural ceremonies on these ancestral homelands.'”

Critically, even though Article III of the Nez Perce Treaty does not mention the word "consultation," the federal court ruled that: The duty of the Forest Service to conduct a consultation after finding that the mega-loads might affect cultural and intrinsic values is commanded by Treaty rights" – "there is no discretion to refuse consultation." And "[w]hen the duty to consult runs to a Tribe, the federal agency generally must consult with the Tribe before taking the action at issue." Indeed, "meaningful consultation takes place “typically before undertaking a course of action” (emphasis in original).

The Nez Perce Megaloads decision is at least the second recent decision from the federal courts, affirming Treaty-based consultation requirements over ceded or off-reservation lands, even though the Treaty Articles at issue do not mention the word "consultation." In 2010, a Washington State federal court enjoined the United States from allowing a private garbage contractor from importing municipal waste from the Hawaiian Islands into the Yakama Nation's ceded lands and fishing, hunting and gathering areas. That court ruled that there were "serious questions about whether Defendants adequately consulted with the Yakama Nation as required by [Article III] of the Yakama Treaty of 1855," even though that Treaty Article, too, does not expressly require consultation.

Under international legal norms, "the treaty obligation to consult that is intrinsic in any bilateral agreement between nations." G. Galanda, "The Federal Indian Consultation Right: No Paper Tiger," Indian Country Today; see Restatement (Third) Foreign Relations Law of the United States §§ 325, 337 (1986).  When will the United States begin to truly honor this norm?  Indeed, Nez Perce v. Megaloads, like the Yakama Hawaiian garbage case and the Quechan solar power case, illustrate how even the "pro-tribal" Obama Administration will flout federal Indian consultation rights in order to cut red tape for, and otherwise fast-track, pet projects like Tar Sands.

In fact, when the political and economic stakes are high, and the choice must be made between siding with either mega-corporations, or Indians, the United States and its President will always -- ALWAYS -- side with almighty corporate interests, and ignore guaranteed Indian rights. That paradigm is nothing new to Indian Country; it has been happening for centuries. What is new is the United States talking out of both sides of its mouth about tribal consultation.

Gabriel "Gabe" Galanda is a partner at Galanda Broadman PLLC, of Seattle, an American Indian owned law firm.  He is an enrolled member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes of Covelo, California.  He can be reached at 206.691.3631 or

Native Civil Rights Lawyer Gabe Galanda to Address Pacific Northwest TERO Region

Gabe Galanda will deliver one of the feature addresses at the Pacific Northwest TERO Region's 2013 PNW TERO Spring Conference Agenda on April 30, at the Swinomish Casino in Lodge. He will address "Employment Legal Issues Affecting Indian Country," from a human rights perspective. Consider this recent passage from "Indian Tribes and Human Rights Accountability," by Professor Winona Singel:

Public outcry over human rights abuses also threatens to diminish relationships between tribes and their surrounding communities. Interdependence between tribes and the non-Indian world is a critical facet of everyday life within Indian country. Tribal intergovernmental relationships with local units of government and state and federal agencies are essential for a wide array of government services, from effective law enforcement to the provision of human services to the management of natural resources in Indian country. Furthermore, tribal economic interests depend upon maintaining healthy relationships in commercial dealings. Each of these relationships has the potential to suffer if a tribe gains notoriety for human rights abuses.

As Gabe will explain at the Pacific Northwest TERO Spring Conference, these human rights concerns apply very neatly to the tribal employment context.

Gabriel "Gabe" Galanda is a partner at Galanda Broadman PLLC, of Seattle, an American Indian owned law firm.  He is an enrolled member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes of Covelo, California.  Gabe can be reached at 206.691.3631 or

President Obama Can Do More For Indian Country

In consideration of recent posts on the successes of President Obama vis-a-vis Indian Country in his first term (for example, here and here), consider a few of Indian Country's trials and tribulations on his watch. 1. Disrespect for Tribal Territorial Autonomy: Agencies within the likes of Justice and Labor, led by the President's appointees, too frequently encroach upon tribal sovereignty and territorial autonomy without appropriate consultation with tribal authorities, as required by Treaties, federal statutes and those agency's own consultation plans and policies. In many respects, it remains business as usual for many federal agencies in terms of entering Indian Country at will to carry out the agency's prerogative. In other words, President Obama's promise of consultation, to federal folks on the ground, is "just words" -- especially given the President's endorsement of the UN Declaration and its "free, prior and informed consent" mandate for nation-state entry onto indigenous lands. I agree with those tribal leaders who insist that the President do more to ensure that "free, prior and informed consent" be integrated into federal policy and action as to issues of tribal implication.

2. Federally Sanctioned State Regulation/Taxation of N2N Commerce: Under guise of the PACT Act, Justice and its ATF have expressly sided with state governments in the enforcement of state civil regulatory laws and tax statutes against tribal governments and entrepreneurs who sell value-generated and other tobacco products from reservation to reservation. Despite the Fed's status as Trustee to Indians, which trust relationship the U.S. does not have to states, the Obama Administration has done so without any meaningful consultation with Indian Country. Even worse, the U.S. threatens to set a precedent of state regulation and taxation of any form of inter-tribal or reservation-to-reservation commerce or trade. Justice and ATF must immediately stand down, in deference to Indian self-sufficiency.

3. President's Unholy Alliance With Big Labor: President Obama struck deals with both Big Labor and Indian Country during his first election. Over the past four years, the Department of Labor has launched un unprecedented assault against Indian Country on behalf of labor unions and employees. In other words, the President has chosen the side of labor interests, which should come as no surprise given his strong predisposition to labor unions. Under banner of the NLRA, most notably, but also OSHA and ERISA, the agency has aggressively challenged tribal self-governance and in the process dishonored notions of tribal territorial authority and federal-tribal consultation. What Labor ultimately threatens to do is ensure that all federal labor laws of so-called general applicability, uniformly govern labor and employment in Indian Country, to the exclusion of tribal self-governance over those areas. Labor should also stand down, in deference to tribal self-governance.

4. Business As Usual With Interior Post-Cobell: It also remains business as usual for the Department of the Interior and BIA as to Indian trust land management, or mismanagement. Indeed, despite so-called "lessons learned" from Cobell, Interior and the BIA have not fundamentally changed the way they carry out the federal trust responsibility to Indian landowners, especially allottees. The $1.9 billion dollar Indian land consolidation, or "buy-back" program, exclaims this point, as Professor David Wilkins observes; instead of exploring new ways to resolve the fractionation epidemic, like Indian estate planning, Interior proposes to band-aid the disease, by creating a $285 million land consolidation/buy-back program, for career BIA employees to administer. All the while, they ignore and do nothing to propose resolution to the real problem of fractionation: non-Indian ownership of undivided interests in allotments. In other words, the more things change (Cobell), the more they stay the same -- and the same will hold true for Cobell-style Indian land controversy.

This critique is not to suggest that the President has not done more for American indigenous people that any President before him; indeed, he has done more than his ever predecessor. Nor is it to suggest naiveté that any President can stand absolutely allegiant to Indian Country in true respect for tribal sovereignty; indeed, no United States President can or ever will. But this critique is to suggest that the Obama Administration can, fundamentally, do more to respect the inherent rights of Native Nations and to resolve historic federal-tribal atrocities, during the President's next four years in the White House.  Yes he can.

Gabriel "Gabe" Galanda is a partner at Galanda Broadman PLLC, of Seattle, an American Indian owned law firm.  He is an enrolled member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes of Covelo, California.  Gabe assists tribal governments and businesses in all matters of tribal economic development and diversification, including entity formation and related tax strategy. He also helps tribes and tribal businesses and joint ventures withstand attack from federal, state and local government. Gabe can be reached at 206.691.3631 or

State-Tribal Consultation Right Crystallizing

Last week, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, urged “local and state authorities in South Dakota” to address concerns expressed by the Sioux Nations regarding the impending private land sale of Pe’Sla, a sacred site of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Peoples, in the Black Hills. While the federal Indian consultation right is now entrenched in federal law, the Special Rapporteur’s pronouncement of a state-tribal consultation right is profound. 

The Special Rapporteur’s proclamation follows a Resolution passed by the National Congress of American Indians in March 2011, whereby NCAI resolved that much like the United States’ consultation obligations to tribes, “states and local governments [must] meaningfully consult with tribal governments, on a government-to-government basis, regarding any matter of tribal implication, in order to allow any affected tribal government to express its views and assert its rights in advance of any non-tribal governmental action or decision-making.”

Indeed, much like the international norm of indigenous consultation and the federal Indian consultation right have each crystallized through non-tribal governmental actions and proclamations, a state-tribal consultation right is forming.

Gabriel "Gabe" Galanda is a partner at Galanda Broadman PLLC, of Seattle, an American Indian owned law firm.  He is an enrolled member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes of Covelo, California.  Gabe is currently writing a piece for Indian Country Today, tentatively titled, "Developing and Enforcing the State-Tribal Consultation Right." He can be reached at 206.691.3631 or

Gabe Galanda to Address UN-Geneva Re: American Indian Treaties and Consultation

Gabe Galanda will visit Geneva, Switzerland on July 16 and 17, 2012, to address the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, during a forum titled, “Strengthening Partnership Between Indigenous Peoples and States: Treaties, Agreements and Other Constructive Arrangements." Gabe, an enrolled member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes of California, will speak at the UN Palais des Nations on July 17 during a session titled, “Highlights of country-level experiences concerning treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.”

He will speak along with indigenous leaders from South Africa, Costa Rica, Bangladesh, New Caledonia, Canada, Mexico, Columbia and Kenya, regarding the processes, principles and other essential elements of the negotiation and elaboration of new agreements or other constructive arrangements as well as the effective recognition of historical treaties.

“The invitation to join the leaders of indigenous nations and nation-states and address the U.N. human rights tribunal in Geneva is one of the highest honors I have ever received,” said Galanda. “I look forward to contributing to international discourse concerning the rights of indigenous peoples vis-à-vis their sister sovereigns, and to helping advance the American Indian consultation right towards one of informed consent.”

Gabe’s remarks and paper are titled, “American Indian Treaties: The Consultation Mandate." In particular, he will address domestic federal recognition and breach of Indian treaties, and modern practices of federal-tribal government-to-government consultation, particularly in relation to the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP) that President Obama endorsed on December 16, 2010. Indian treaties are to be recognized as the Supreme Law of the Land according to Article VI of the U.S. Constitution.

Gabe has been critical of the United States government for its breach of the U.N. DRIP (“in action, the departments, agencies, and officials within the Obama Administration do not actually live up to the words contained in the Declaration. To the contrary, federal actions too frequently contradict the promises made by the United States to American Indian indigenous people in the Declaration”); and its violation of fundamental consultation tenets between sovereigns (“other federal agencies completely missed the memo on tribal consultation – literally President Obama’s Tribal Consultation Memorandum – and, in specific instances, have failed to meaningfully consult with tribal governments concerning federal activity”). He maintains that a “treaty consultation obligation arises, in part at least, from the implicit duty to consult that is intrinsic in any bilateral agreement between nations.”

Gabe is a Partner with Galanda Broadman, PLLC, an American Indian-owned law firm in Seattle dedicated to advancing tribal legal rights and Indian business interests. His practice focuses on complex, multi-party litigation and crisis management, representing tribal governments and businesses and Indian citizens. Gabe has prosecuted various actions against the United States and for breach of Indian treaties and federal Indian consultation laws.

He has been selected to The Best Lawyers in America® from 2007 to 2012, and was named as one of the best lawyers in Washington State by Puget Sound Business Journal in 2011. Gabe was named to the Puget Sound Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” list, as well as to the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s “Native American 40 Under 40” list in recognition of his status as an emerging leader in the legal industry, in 2009. Washington Law & Politics/Super Lawyers magazine named Gabe a “Rising Star” for ten of the last twelve years, most recently this year, and Washington Law & Politics named him one of Washington’s four Leading Edge Litigators in 2003. He was awarded the Washington State Bar Association Young Lawyers Division’s Outstanding Young Lawyer Award, and the Northwest Indian Bar Association’s Native Justice Award, in 2004.

Gabe was born and raised in Port Angeles, Washington. At Peninsula College, he received his A.A. from Peninsula College in 1995, and served as Associate Student Body President there in 1994-95. Gabe received his B.A. in English Literature from Western Washington University in 1997, and his J.D. from the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona in Tucson, in 2000. At Arizona, he served as President of the Native American Law Students Association in 1998-99 and Note Editor for the Journal of International and Comparative Law in 1999-2000.

Gabe Galanda to Stump on Federal Indian Consultation at the Silver State Mining & Tribal Forum

Gabe Galanda will stump on the federal Indian consultation right at the 2012 Silver State Mining & Tribal Forum, via Skype to Winnemucca, Nevada on April 17, 2012. His remarks will focus on customary international law requiring consultation with and informed consent by indigenous peoples, as embodied in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In late 2010, Gabe published a three-part series in Indian Country Today titled, "The Federal Indian Consultation Right: No Paper Tiger." He has since been cited as a leading commentator on the topic of federal Indian consultation, in papers like "Tribal Consultation in the 21st Century" by Professors Colette Routel and Jeffrey Holth; and in the latest edition of Steven Pevar's book, "The Rights of Indians and Tribes."

Gabriel "Gabe" Galanda is a partner at Galanda Broadman PLLC, of Seattle, an American Indian owned law firm.  He is an enrolled member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes of Covelo, California.  Gabe helps tribal governments and Indians citizens defend against tribal and indigenous rights violations by federal, state and local government actors. Gabe can be reached at 206.691.3631 or