American Indian Law
LitigationComplex litigation in all areas of Federal Indian law defines our practice. From pre-suit investigation and discovery through dispositive motion practice and trial, we provide boots-on-the-ground experience and strategy asserting treaty and tribal rights at every tier, in tribal courts, in the federal courts of the United States, including the United States Supreme Court, and, when necessary, in state courts.
Stokes Lawrence’s American Indian Law team served as counsel of record in Washington State Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den, 139 S. Ct. 1000 (2019), a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision affirming that the Treaty of 1855 preserved the perpetual right of Yakama Nation members to travel the public highways of the United States to trade unencumbered. The Supreme Court’s decision rested and relied on the lower Washington Supreme Court decision, which Stokes Lawrence argued and won on behalf of tribal corporation Cougar Den, Inc. This was arguably the biggest victory in a treaty case in decades.
Stokes Lawrence has built on its successes and continues to litigate for the preservation of treaty rights and commercial interests on behalf of various Native American-owned corporations across the country.
TransactionalOur American Indian Law team is committed to developing the economic vitality of Indian country, taking advantage of the unique status of tribes and native corporations. We rely on our firm's vast business experience to structure complex corporate, financing, and banking transactions that involve tribal entities and tribal organizations. We support our tribal clients with large land purchases, fee-to-trust processes, large commercial acquisitions, as well as real estate development throughout Indian Country.
Representative MattersWashington State Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den, 139 S. Ct. 1000 (2019), a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision affirming a case Stokes Lawrence prevailed on before the Washington Supreme Court. In Washington State DOL v. Cougar Den, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court announced that the Treaty of 1855 granted Yakama Nation members the right to travel the public highways of the United States free from taxes which encumber that treaty right.
Tulalip Tribes v. State of Washington and Snohomish County (Western District of Washington, May 2018). Lead counsel in bench trial before federal District Court Judge Barbara Rothstein, regarding whether the State and Snohomish County could collect sales tax on reservation at Quil Ceda Village. Case settled during Ninth Circuit appeal, and as part of that settlement the State of Washington passed a ground-breaking law providing that tribes have the right to enter into compacts to share Washington state sales tax receipts with tribes for sales occurring on their reservations.
Gaming contract litigation. In an intensely litigated dispute over the management contract for a new $500 million casino project, obtained favorable settlement prior to trial.
Tribal Tax Advisory Group for the State of Washington. Assisted the development of the Tribal Tax Exemption for items and services related to the exercise of Hunting, Gathering, and Fishing related activities for Washington State Tribes and their members. Successfully advocated for the inclusion of the Nez Perce Tribe to be included in the Washington State Tribal Tax Exemption based on the Nez Perce Tribe’s historical presence and activities within present-day Washington state boundaries.
- Derek Red Arrow Frank joins Western Environmental Law Center board of directors
- Stokes Lawrence Named a "Ceiling Smasher" by Law360
- 2023 The Best Lawyers in America and Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch Honor 23 Stokes Lawrence Attorneys
- Derek Red Arrow Frank Joins Panel at Reservation Economic Summit
- 34th Annual WSBA Indian Law CLE - June 16 and 17, 2022
- Stokes Lawrence assists Cougar Den, Inc. in its U.S. Supreme Court Amicus Brief
- Stokes Lawrence Adds Three Attorneys to the Firm
- Stokes Lawrence Named to 2022 "Best Law Firms" List
- U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Yakama Treaty Rights in Washington State Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den, Inc.
- Stokes Lawrence Tribal Client Wins Landmark Case at U.S. Supreme Court
- Washington Supreme Court Issues Landmark Ruling Affirming Right to Travel and Trade for Members of Yakama Nation
- SLVMS Wins $20 Million Tax Appeal