TEMOAK TRIBE – The Timbisha Shoshone Tribe has filed a lawsuit in federal court that asks the court to find the Western Shoshone Claims Distribution Act unconstitutional because it violates the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.
"We want to make sure Congress abides by its own laws in the United States Constitution when dealing with sovereign Indian nations." Joe Kennedy, Chairman of the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, said.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court, District of Columbia and claims that the “Act makes no provision for compensation to Plaintiff Timbisha Shoshone Tribe or any other tribe for the prospective taking of the judgment fund” which means the judgment funds would not go to any Tribe, only to individuals.
"Another important fact in this case is that not all members are eligible for the distribution," said Kennedy. The law provides requirements for people to be eligible for the judgment fund, such as having at least ¼ degree of Western Shoshone blood or not having received a pervious per capita payment from any other judgment fund. People who do not meet those requirements would not receive any part of the funds.
"We believe we can win this case and rid federal law of a very harmful and unjustifiable doctrine that has deprived Indian nations of their rights for generations," said Robert T. Coulter, executive director of the Indian Law Resource Center and lead counsel in the suit.
Not only does the lawsuit seek to find the Western Shoshone Claims Distribution Act unconstitutional, but also seeks an injunction to stop the distribution of any part of the judgment fund “unless and until Congress provides for distribution of the fund in a manner consistent with the United States Constitution.”
UPDATE: Indianz.com has the article Timbisha Shoshone Tribe sues to stop trust fund distribution which begins “The Timbisha Shoshone Tribe of Nevada filed a lawsuit on Friday in hopes of stopping the distribution of a $185 million trust fund.”