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United States v. Cleveland

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

November 21, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
KIRBY CLEVELAND, Defendant.

          John C. Anderson United States Attorney Novaline D. Wilson Jennifer M. Rozzoni Niki Tapia-Brito Letitia Carroll Simms Michael D. Murphy Assistant United States Attorneys United States Attorney's Office Albuquerque, New Mexico Attorneys for the Plaintiff

          Donald F. Kochersberger, III Business Law Southwest, L.L.C. Albuquerque, New Mexico and Theresa M. Duncan Duncan Earnest Attorneys at Law Albuquerque, New Mexico Attorneys for the Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Counts 1 and 5 of the Indictment, filed September 24, 2018 (Doc. 72)(“Motion”). The primary issues are whether: (i) a Navajo Nation Department of Public Safety (“NDPS”) officer, Houston Largo, was a federal officer for purposes of 18 U.S.C. § 1114 -- “Protection of Officers and Employees of the United States” -- when the Bureau of Indian Affairs (“BIA”)[1] has, with the Navajo Nation, entered a Self-Determination Contract, filed September 24, 2018 (Doc. 72-2)(“Self-Determination Contract”), also known as a 638 contract, [2] granting the Navajo Nation authority to enforce United States and Tribal laws; and (ii) Largo, when responding to a domestic violence call in the Navajo Nation, was performing a federal employee's “official duties, ” 18 U.S.C. § 1114. Based on a plain meaning of the Indian Law Enforcement Reform Act, 25 U.S.C. §§ 2801-14 (“ILERA”), and United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit precedent, the Court concludes that, based on the record before the Court[3], unless additional evidence reveals that the Navajo Nation waived its inherent criminal jurisdiction or authorized the BIA to enforce Tribal law, officers without Special Law Enforcement Commissions (“SLEC”) like Largo, are not federal employees for 18 U.S.C. § 1114's purposes. Because the Court does not have sufficient evidence to definitively make this determination at this time, the Court requests additional information regarding whether the Navajo Nation waived its inherent criminal jurisdiction or authorized the BIA to enforce its laws. If there is no more evidence regarding the Navajo Nation's authority to enforce Tribal laws, the Court will grant Cleveland's Motion.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         In its Memorandum Opinion and Order, No. CR 17-0965 JB, 2018 WL 4759889, filed October 2, 2018 (Doc. 82)(“MOO”), the Court summarized the factual background and early procedural history. See MOO at 1-2; 2018 WL 4759889, at *1-2.

The Court draws its facts about the offense at issue from the Indictment, filed April 12, 2017 (Doc. 20)(“Indictment”). The Court recognizes that the Indictment largely represents Plaintiff United States of America's version of events and that Cleveland is presumed innocent.
. . . .
On July 18, 2013, Cleveland pled guilty to violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1153 and 18 U.S.C. § 113(a)(6), for an assault on Jane Doe resulting in serious bodily injury. See United States v. Cleveland, No. CR. 12-2062 MCA, Judgment at 1, filed November 27, 2013 (Doc. 102)(“Judgment”). The Honorable M. Christina Armijo, then-Chief United States District Judge for the District of New Mexico, sentenced Cleveland to 24 months in prison and three years of supervised release. See Judgment at 1. Cleveland entered supervision on April 7, 2014, but after absconding from supervision, he was remanded to custody on July 14, 2016, for lying to the probation officer, violating the probation officer's instructions, using alcohol and other intoxicants, and not completing a substance abuse treatment program. See United States v. Cleveland, No. CR. 12-2062 MCA, Petition for Revocation of Supervised Release at 1, filed July 17, 2015 (Doc. 109); Judgment at 1-2, filed August 8, 2016 (Doc. 121); Second Petition for Revocation of Supervised Release at 1, filed February 27, 2017 (Doc. 122). Cleveland returned to supervision on September 6, 2016, with the supervision set to end on September 5, 2018. See United States v. Cleveland, No. CR. 12-2062 MCA, Second Petition for Revocation of Supervised Release at 1. Before completing his supervised release, around February 26, 2017, to March 11, 2017, Cleveland escaped “from Diersen Residential Reentry Center in Albuquerque, ” New Mexico. Indictment at 2. . . .

See MOO at 1-2; 2018 WL 4759889, at *1-2. While responding to a domestic violence call and in uniform, see United States' Response to Defendant Kirby Cleveland's Motion to Dismiss Counts 1 and 5 of the Indictment at 2, filed November 2, 2018 (Doc. 94)(“Response”); Motion at 2, Largo stopped Cleveland's vehicle within the Navajo Nation while Cleveland was driving under the influence, see Motion at 2; Response at 1-2. During the stop, Cleveland shot and killed Largo. See Indictment at 2; Response at 2.

         The NDPS employed Largo. See Response at 2-3. The BIA did not employ Largo, and Largo did not have a BIA SLEC. See Motion at 2; Response at 2. The Navajo Nation has a Self-Determination Contract with the BIA; the Self-Determination Contract provides for “the provision of law enforcement” by the Navajo Nation, and incorporates the Annual Funding Agreement (executed December 28, 2016), filed September 24, 2018 (Doc. 72-3), and the Statement of Work, filed September 24, 2018 (Doc. 72-4), which conditions federal funds on the provision of law enforcement services pursuant to ILERA. Motion at 5. The Self-Determination Contract states:

Each provision of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act . . . and each provision of this Contract shall be liberally construed for the benefit of the Contractor to transfer the funding and the following related functions, services, activities and programs (or portions thereof), that are otherwise contractible under Section 102(a) of such Act, including all related administrative functions, from the Federal Government to the Contractor: Law Enforcement-Patrol Services.

         Self-Determination Contract ¶ 2, at 1 (emphasis in original). The Funding Agreement states: “The Navajo Nation agrees to administer and perform those portions of the Bureau of Indian Affairs' . . . Law Enforcement-Patrol Services identified in the Scope of Work . . . .” Annual Funding Agreement ¶ A(1), at 1 (emphasis in original). The Statement of Work describes that the Navajo Nation will maintain “law enforcement and crime prevention services, ” Statement of Work ¶ 101(A), at 1, enforce “Navajo Nation and federal laws and ordinances, ” Statement of Work ¶ 101(B), at 1, protect “private, public and government property” within the Navajo Nation, Statement of Work ¶ 101(C), at 1, respond to “citizen's [sic] complaints or other request [sic] for law enforcement services, ” Statement of Work ¶ 101(F), at 1, patrol the roadways within the Navajo Nation, see Statement of Work ¶ 101(G), at 1, and engage in other law enforcement activities, see Statement of Work ¶ 101(E), (H)-(M), at 1-2. The Statement of Work further provides: “The Bureau may commission any law enforcement officer as a Federal Law Officer as set out in Attachment A-B.” Statement of Work ¶ 104, at 6. The Deputation Agreement (executed March 13, 2013), filed September 24, 2018 (Doc. 72-5), states its intent to

provide for the deputation of law enforcement officers employed by the [NDPS] . . . so that the [NDPS] law enforcement officers will be authorized to assist the BIA in its duties to provide law enforcement services and to make lawful arrests in Indian country within the jurisdiction of the Tribe or as described in section 5.

         Deputation Agreement at 1. The Deputation Agreement explains the purpose for deputizing NDPS officers:

Both parties to this Agreement recognize that when law enforcement officers arrest a criminal suspect, the officers may not know whether the suspect or the victim is an Indian or a non-Indian, or whether the arrest or the suspected crime has occurred in Indian country . . . and that therefore there is great difficulty in determining immediately the proper jurisdiction for the filing of charges.

         Deputation Agreement at 2. The Deputation Agreement provides for the BIA to issue SLECs to NDPS officers. See Deputation Agreement ¶ 2(A), at 3. NDPS officers with SLECs have authority to enforce “[a]ll Federal laws applicable within Indian country, and specifically the Navajo Nation's Indian country, including the General Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1152, and the Major Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1153 . . . .” Deputation Agreement ¶ 3(A), at 4. The Deputation Agreement does not change judicial jurisdictions. See Deputation Agreement ¶ 3(C), at 4. “Officers holding SLECs are treated as BIA police officers for enforcing Federal laws.” Deputation Agreement ¶ 6(A), at 5. Under the Deputation Agreement:

[A]ny Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety Law Enforcement Officer who is deputized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Special Law Enforcement Commission will only be deemed an employee of the Department of the Interior for the Purposes of the Federal Tort Claims Act[, 28 USCA §§ 1291, 1346, 1402, 2401, 2402, 2411, 2412, 2671 to 2680, (“FTCA”), ] while carrying out those laws applicable in Indian country . . . . Therefore, such officer will not be deemed a federal employee under 25 U.S.C. § 2804(f), or for purposes of the Federal Tort Claims Act with respect to the enforcement of any other law except those applicable in Indian country . . . .

Deputation Agreement ¶ 8(b), at 7.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         “A federal Grand Jury indicted Cleveland in the current case on April 12, 2017. See Indictment at 1.” MOO at 2; 2018 WL 4759889, at *2. The Grand Jury indicted Cleveland on eight counts: (i) killing a federal officer in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1111 and 18 U.S.C. § 1114; (ii) felony murder in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1111; (iii) killing Largo with a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1153 and 18 U.S.C. § 1111; (iv) escape from Dierson Residential Reentry Center in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 751(a); (v) using a firearm during a crime of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1) and (j)(1); (vi) using a firearm in relation to the felony murder of Largo and, during the felony murder, killing Largo with a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1) and (j)(1); (vii) using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, the first degree murder of Largo, and, while committing this violation, killing Largo in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1) and (j)(1); and (viii) using a firearm while a felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). In addition, the Grand Jury made the following special findings: (i) Cleveland was 18 years old or older at the time of the violations, see Indictment at 4; (ii) Cleveland “intentionally killed” Largo, Indictment at 4; (iii) Cleveland “intentionally inflicted serious bodily injury, ” resulting in Largo's death, Indictment at 4; (iv) Cleveland “intentionally participated in an act, contemplating that the life of a person would be taken or intending that lethal force would be used in connection with a person, other than one of the participants in the offense, ” and Largo died as a result of the act, Indictment at 4; (v) Cleveland “intentionally specifically engaged in an act of violence, knowing that the act created a grave risk of death to a person, other than one of the participants in the offense, such that participation in the act constituted a reckless disregard for human life, ” and Largo died as a result of the act, Indictment at 5; (vi) Cleveland caused Largo's death during Cleveland's flight from another crime -- the other crime being escape from Dierson Residential Reentry Center, Indictment at 5; and (vii) Cleveland “committed the offense against a law enforcement officer while [Largo] was engaged in the performance of his official duties, ” Indictment at 5.

         On January 26, 2018, the United States filed the Notice of Intent to Seek the Death Penalty, filed January 26, 2018 (Doc. 39)(“Intent Notice”), stating that it would seek the death penalty for Count 2, “Committing Felony Murder while in Violation of 18 U.S.C. § 751(a), ” escaping from Dierson Charities, “in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1111 [(“Murder”)], ” and Count 6, “Using and Carrying a Firearm During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(1) and (j)(1).” Intent Notice at 1. In support of the death penalty, the United States cites the special findings one through five, see Notice at 1-2, and it cites four “non-statutory aggravating factors, ” Intent Notice at 2: (i) “[t]he defendant caused the death of [Largo], a 27-year old son, brother, and decorated veteran law enforcement officer with [NDPS], who enjoyed a strong relationship with his family, friends, and colleagues, ” Intent Notice at 2; (ii) “[t]he victim's family suffered severe and irreparable harm including, but not limited to, emotional distress, grief, loss of companionship, and loss of emotional and financial support, ” Intent Notice at 2; (iii) “[t]he victim's employer, [NDPS], and the victim's colleagues within [NDPS] and adjoining law enforcement agencies have suffered substantial and irreparable harm, including, but not limited to, emotional distress, grief, loss of companionship, and loss of service, ” Intent Notice at 2; and (iv) Largo was engaged in his official duties when killed, see Intent Notice at 2.

         1. The Motion.

         Cleveland filed the Motion on September 24, 2018. See Motion at 1. Cleveland argues that Largo “was not a federal employee and was not engaged in the performance of official duties of a federal officer.” Motion at 3. Cleveland contends that, because Largo was not a federal officer, the Court does not have jurisdiction over Counts 1 and 5 of the Indictment, and should dismiss those Counts. See Motion at 7.

         Cleveland explains that the United States is relying on the ILERA to establish that Largo was a federal officer. See Motion at 3. According to Cleveland, the ILERA “clarifies that the BIA's responsibility is ‘the enforcement of Federal law and, with the consent of the Indian Tribe, Tribal law.'” Motion at 3-4 (quoting 25 U.S.C. § 2802(c)(1)). Cleveland explains that § 2804(f)(1)(B) provides that persons who are not otherwise federal employees will be treated as federal employees when acting under the authority that the Secretary of the Interior (“DOI Secretary”) grants under § 2804(a). See Motion at 3 (citing 25 U.S.C. §§ 2804(f)(1)(B)). Cleveland further explains that § 2804(a) establishes the methods by which the DOI Secretary grants law enforcement authority to Tribal law enforcement bodies. See Motion at 4 (citing U.S.C. § 2804(a)). Cleveland explains that the ILERA “authorizes the BIA to enter into ‘self-determination [contracts]' with other law enforcement agencies -- including any ‘Federal, Tribal, State, or other government agency.'” Motion at 4 (footnote omitted)(quoting § 2804(a)(1)). According to Cleveland, “[u]nder the ILERA, the enforcement of federal laws is the province of the BIA, while the enforcement of Tribal laws is the province of the Tribes, and each of these entities can opt to enlist the assistance of the other.” Motion at 4.

         Cleveland cites 25 C.F.R. § 12.21(b) to argue that “[t]ribal law enforcement officers operating under a BIA contract or compact are not automatically commissioned as Federal officers, ” although, according to Cleveland, “they may be commissioned on a case-by-case basis.” Motion at 4 (internal quotation marks omitted)(quoting 25 C.F.R. § 12.21(b)). Cleveland explains that the Navajo Nation entered the Self-Determination Contract pursuant to the ILERA. See Motion at 5. The Self-Determination Contract, Cleveland notes, provides for “the provision of law enforcement” by the Navajo Nation and incorporates the Annual Funding Agreement, and the Statement of Work, which conditions federal funds on the provision of law enforcement services pursuant to the ILERA. Motion at 5. According to Cleveland, the Self-Determination Contract also provides that the BIA can commission NDPS officers as federal officers pursuant to a SLEC agreement, the Deputation Agreement, and BIA -- Office of Justice Services SLEC policies.[4] See Motion at 5. Cleveland avers that the ILERA and related regulations govern the Deputation Agreement, which gives the BIA discretion in commissioning NDPS officers as federal officers. See Motion at 6. According to Cleveland, NDPS officers with SLECs “have the power to enforce ‘all federal laws applicable within Indian country, including the General Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1152, and the Major Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1153.'” Motion at 6 (citing Deputation Agreement, ¶ 3(A), at 4). Arguing that a federally commissioned Tribal police officer is only a federal employee for the FTCA and 18 U.S.C. §§ 111 and 1114 when enforcing federal laws, Cleveland quotes from the Deputation Agreement:

[A]ny Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety Law Enforcement Officer who is deputized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Special Law Enforcement Commission will only be deemed an employee of the Department of the Interior for purposes of the Federal Tort Claims Act while carrying out those laws applicable in Indian Country as described in Section 3.A and Appendix A [which list only federal laws]. Therefore, such officer will not be deemed a federal employee under 25 U.S.C. § 2804(f)(1) [which in turn references §§ 111 & 1114], or for purposes of the FTCA with respect to enforcement of any other law except those enforceable in Indian country as described in Section 3.A and Appendix A.

Motion at 6 (citing Deputation Agreement ¶ 8(B), at 7).

         Cleveland contends that, because NDPS, not the BIA, employed Largo, and the BIA had not given Largo a SLEC, he was not a federal officer. See Motion at 7 (citing United States v. Tauz Abner Henderson, 3:18-cr-08112-DJH, Order (filed June 11, 2018)(Humetewa, J.)(unpublished), filed September 24, 2018 (Doc. 50)(“United States v. Tauz Abner Henderson Order”)). Cleveland avers that, in United States v. Tauz Abner Henderson, the Honorable Diane J. Humetewa, United States District Judge for the District of Arizona, concluded that an officer, like Largo, who “was employed by the Navajo Nation and did not hold a[n]” SLEC, was not a federal officer. Motion at 7 (citing United States v. Tauz Abner Henderson Order at 3). Cleveland argues that, because 25 C.F.R. § 12.21(b) distinguishes between commissioned and non-commissioned Tribal police officers, only commissioned Tribal police officers are federal officers. See Motion at 8 (citing Boney v. Valline, 597 F.Supp.2d 1157, 1177 (D. Nev. 2009)(Jones, J.); Trujillo v. United States, 313 F.Supp.2d 1146, 1150 (D.N.M. 2003)(Johnson, J.)). Cleveland argues that the Deputation Agreement specifies when NDPS officers are federal officers. See Motion at 9. Cleveland contends that “it cannot be the case that all Navajo Nation police officers are federal officers by virtue of the mere existence of a contractual delegation of federal authority when the contract itself specifies only a limited class of Tribal police officers who have federal status.” Motion at 9. Cleveland avers likewise that 25 C.F.R. § 12.21(b) “undermines any notion that a contractual delegation of federal authority ‘automatically' confers federal employee status.” Motion at 10.

         Finally, Cleveland argues that, even were Largo a federal officer, he was not “engaged in the ‘official duties' of a federal employee” at the time Cleveland killed him. Motion at 10 (citing 18 U.S.C. § 1114). Cleveland contends that, although determining Largo's duties at the time requires factual findings, the Court can resolve the question, because the issue involves limited factual findings and is jurisdictional. See Motion at 10 (citing United States v. Olivas-Perea, 297 F.Supp.3d 1191, 1204 (D.N.M. 2017)(Browning, J.)). According to Cleveland, because Largo was responding to a “domestic violence call, ” Largo was engaged in “quintessentially local, Tribal matters, ” not federal laws. Motion at 11. See Motion at 10-11.

         2. The Response.

         The United States replied on November 2, 2018. See Response at 1. The United States contends that the Court should not dismiss Counts 1 and 5. See Response at 9. The United States first notes in a footnote that it does not object to the introduction of the Self-Determination Contract, providing for NDPS authority over law enforcement within the Navajo Nation; the Annual Funding Agreement, establishing BIA funding for NDPS law enforcement activities; the Statement of Work, stating the scope of NDPS authority; or the Deputation Agreement, providing for the BIA to give SLECs to NDPS officers, although it cannot determine if the Deputation Agreement is current. See Response at 3 n.2. Further, the United States responds that Largo was acting as a federal officer, because domestic violence implicates federal crimes -- including “[A]ssault resulting in serious bodily injury, ” 18 U.S.C. § 113(a)(6); “assault with a dangerous weapon, ” 18 U.S.C. § 113(a)(4); “[A]ssault resulting in serious bodily injury, ” 18 U.S.C. § 113(a)(3); “Domestic Assault by Strangulation, ” Response at 3 (citing 18 U.S.C. § 113(a)(8); “Domestic assault by an habitual offender, ” 18 U.S.C. § 117; federal stalking crimes, see 18 U.S.C. §§ 2261, 2262, and 2261A; and violations of protective orders, see 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8). See Response at 3-4.

         Next, the United States argues that, as Largo “was acting within the scope of his duties as a law enforcement officer pursuant to a contract between the BIA and the Navajo Nation for law enforcement services, ” he was a federal officer. Response at 4 (citing United States v. Janis, 810 F.3d 595, 597 (8th Cir. 2016); Allender v. Scott, 379 F.Supp.2d 1206, 1218 (D.N.M. 2005)(Black, J.)). The United States argues that Tribal police officers were considered federal law enforcement before the ILERA. See Response at 4-5. The United States contends that, twenty years before the ILERA's passage, see Response at 7, the Indian Self-Determination Education and Assistance Act, 25 U.S.C. §§ 13a, 5301-02, 5304-08, 5321-25, 5328-32, 5345-47, 5351-56, 5361-68, 5381-99, 5411-13, 5421-23 (“ISDA”),  authorized the DOI Secretary to transfer authority for the provision of services, including law enforcement, from the United States to Tribal actors to ensure American Indian participation in servicing their communities. See Response at 4-5 (citing Salazar v. Ramah Navajo Chapter, 567 U.S. 182, 185 (2012); 25 U.S.C. §§ 5302(a), 5321(a)(1)(B), 5329(c); 25 C.F.R. § 900.3(b)(4); S. Rep. No. 107-324, at 2 (2002); S. Rep. No. I07-324, at 2 (2002)(stating that the ISDA allows “Indian Tribes to ‘step into the shoes' of the United States”)). The United States explains that, in 1921, before the ISDA, the Snyder Act, 25 U.S.C. § 13[5], authorized the BIA “to employ Indian police to conduct law enforcement operations.” Response at 5. The Snyder Act included pay for “Indian Police, ” which Congress had authorized since 1879, Response at 5 (citing 20 Stat. 295 (1880); 27 Stat. 120 (1893); 32 Stat. 245 (1903); 36 Stat. 269 (1911)), and authorization for “liquor suppression ‘special officers'” to act as “United States Marshals” “on reservations, ” Response at 5 (citing 37 Stat. 518 (1913)). See Response at 5 (citing 25 U.S.C. § 13; Gilbert v. United States, 114 F.2d. 568, 570-71 (10th Cir. 1944)).

         The United States argues that, “when a Tribe opts to assume the functions of law enforcement under ISDA, it must also assume BIA's legal authority to execute federal functions legally assigned to BIA officers.” Response at 6 (citing United States v. Schrader, 10 F.3d 1345, 1350 (8th Cir. 1993)). According to the United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has concluded that, in prosecutions of assaults on alleged federal officers, “the court should decide as a matter of law whether the officers of the relevant Tribal law enforcement department, as a class, qualify as federal officers, ” and the jury should decide whether the particular Tribal officer was a federal officer. Response at 6 (citing United States v. Janis, 810 F.3d at 598). The United States argues that, because NDPS officers were charged with enforcing federal law, Largo and other NDPS officers were federal officers. See Response at 6 (citing Self-Determination Contract at 1; Annual Funding Agreement ¶ A(1), at 2; Statement of Work ¶ 101(b), at 1 (stating that the scope of work included “enforcing applicable Navajo Nation and federal laws and ordinances”); United States v. Roy, 408 F.3d 484, 490 (8th Cir. 2005)).

         The United States continues, noting that the ILERA authorizes SLECs, but it does not replace Congress' grant of law enforcement authority through the ISDA. See Response at 7 (citing 25 U.S.C. §§ 13, 5301; H.R. Rep. No. 101-60, at 5-6 (1989)). The United States contends that the Honorable William H. Alsup, United States District Judge for the District of Northern California, in Hopland Band of Pomo Indians v. Norton, 324 F.Supp.2d 1067 (N.D. Cal. 2004), explains that Tribal police officers were already federal law enforcement officials before Congress enacted the ILERA. See Response at 7 (citing Hopland Band of Pomo Indians v. Norton, 324 F.Supp.2d at 1073). The United States avers that the ILERA provides additional authority, but it does not change when Tribal police officers would be considered federal officers under the ISDA. See Response at 7-8. The United States concludes that, given the Self-Determination Contract, Largo, who was acting as a NDPS officer when killed, should be treated as a federal officer. See Response at 8. Regarding whether Largo was engaged in official duties, the United States avers that the Supreme Court of the United States has concluded that, for the FTCA, “Congress intended [intentional-tort-coverage] determinations to depend on a federal officer's legal authority, not on a particular exercise of that authority, ” Response at 8 (brackets in original)(citing Millbrook v. United States, 569 U.S. 50, 56 (2013)), and urges the Court to adopt a similar interpretation to determine whether Largo was a federal officer, see Response at 8-9.

         3. The Reply.

         On November 19, 2018, Cleveland filed the Reply in Support of Defendant Kirby Cleveland's Motion to Dismiss Counts 1 and 5 of the Indictment [Doc. 72] (Doc. 104)(“Reply”). See Reply at 11. Cleveland cites Dry v. United States, 235 F.3d 1249, 1254 (10th Cir. 2000), to argue that “[t]he authority of Navajo police officers to enforce Navajo law cannot be delegated from the federal government to the tribes via a self-determination contract because it belongs, in the first instance, to the tribes.” Reply at 2. Cleveland argues that the ILERA and BIA regulations make clear that BIA officers cannot enforce Tribal laws without the Tribe's permission. See Reply at 3 (citing 25 U.S.C. § 2802(c)(1); 25 C.F.R. § 12.22). In a footnote, Cleveland notes, in response to the United States' argument that the Self-Determination Contract specifies that the Navajo Nation will enforce United States and Tribal Laws, that: “It makes sense that the law enforcement activities to be funded would be specified in the contract. But the provision of funds from the federal government to local law enforcement does not transform all local officers who benefit from such funds into federal officers.” Reply at 3. Cleveland attacks the Eighth Circuit cases on which the United States relies, arguing that they are not binding or persuasive, and that the Court cannot ignore the specific contracts into which the BIA entered with the Navajo Nation. See Reply at 3-4. Cleveland emphasizes that the language in the particular contract at issue is what matters, and reiterates that the Deputation Contract specifies which Tribal officers “are federal officers under section 1114, and under what circumstances.” Reply at 4.

         Cleveland cites again to 25 C.F.R. § 12.21(b), contending: “It would not be necessary to promulgate a regulation explaining that the BIA may obtain the assistance of tribal officers in enforcing federal law” -- as 25 C.F.R. § 12.21 addresses -- “‘on a case-by-case basis' if tribal officers were all federal officers by virtue of the mere existence of a self-determination contract.” Reply at 5 (citing 25 C.F.R. § 12.21(b)). According to Cleveland, 25 C.F.R. §§ 12.21(b) answers who are federal officers for § 2804(f), and Cleveland avers that the Court cannot “deny Mr. Cleveland's motion without finding that the Secretary of the Interior has reached an unreasonable interpretation of the ILERA in promulgating 25 C.F.R. § 12.21.” Reply at 6.

         Cleveland further notes that the United States “ignores the ILERA's implementing regulations . . . and the language of the relevant contract documents” when it argues that, because earlier statutes allowed the employment of American Indians, Tribal officers are federal employees under the ILERA are federal employees. Reply at 6. Cleveland indicates that, were the SLEC unnecessary, the Deputation Agreement would not explain that 25 U.S.C. § 2804(f), and consequently the FTCA and 18 U.S.C. §§ 111 and 1114, apply when “SLEC-bearing” Tribal officers enforce federal law, but not when they enforce Tribal law. Reply at 7.

         Finally, according to Cleveland, Largo could not have been enforcing federal law, because he was not a federal officer. See Reply at 7-8. Further, Cleveland explains that Largo reported to a call “that Mr. Cleveland was drunk and disorderly, not that he had assaulted anyone, ” and, according to Cleveland, such facts “do not support a finding that Officer Largo was enforcing federal law, ” because the domestic violence had not escalated to a crime “of sufficient seriousness to be prosecutable under the Major Crimes Act.” Reply at 8. Cleveland additionally contends that Largo could only have enforced federal law if he acted outside his authority's scope, because he had no SLEC. Reply at 8. Cleveland notes that the United States has previously argued that Tribal officers require SLECs to enforce federal law. See Reply at 8-9 (citing Etsitty-Thompson v. United States, No. 2:13-CV-159 TS, 2013 WL 4052621 (D. Utah Aug. 12, 2013)(Stewart, J.); Williams v. Naswood, No. CV-10-8080-PCT-FJM, 2011 WL 867520 (D. Ariz. March 14, 2011)(Martone, J.)).

         LAW REGARDING THE INDIAN CANON

         The Indian canon of construction requires that courts liberally construe treaties, agreements, statutes, and executive orders in the American Indians' favor. See Montana v. Blackfeet Tribe, 471 U.S. 759, 766 (1985). See generally Philip P. Frickey, Marshalling Past and Present: Colonialism, Constitutionalism, and Interpretation in Federal Indian Law, 107 Harv. L. Rev. 381 (1993)(offering a scholarly commentary on the Indian canon). Courts are to construe treaties and other agreements as the American Indians who entered into the treaties or agreements would have understood them. See, e.g., Minnesota v. Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa Indians, 526 U.S. 172, 196 (1999)(“[W]e interpret Indian treaties to give effect to the terms as the Indians themselves would have understood them.”). Any ambiguity in an agreement is to be resolved in the American Indians' favor. See, e.g., Carpenter v. Shaw, 280 U.S. 363, 367 (1930).[6]

         The Indian canon sometimes can come into conflict with other canons of statutory interpretation. When canons clash, the Indian canon usually trumps competing canons. See Cohen's Handbook of Federal Indian Law § 2.02[3], at 119-123 (Nell Jessup Newton et al. eds., 2012). See Navajo Health Found.-Sage Mem'l Hosp., Inc. v. Burwell, 220 F.Supp.3d 1190, 1263-64 (D.N.M. 2016)(Browning, J.)(employing the Indian canon to override deference to the HHS and supports its conclusion that Annual Funding Agreements under the ISDA “must be negotiated, if a Tribe wishes for them to be negotiated”); Navajo Health Found.-Sage Mem'l Hosp., Inc. v. Burwell, 263 F.Supp.3d 1083, 1165-66 (D.N.M. 2016)(Browning, J.)(applying the Indian canon to conclude that a hospital was a “Federal program” eligible for reimbursement under the ISDA).

         LAW REGARDING JUDICIAL REVIEW OF AGENCY ACTION

         Under the APA,

[a] person suffering legal wrong because of agency action, or adversely affected or aggrieved by agency action within the meaning of a relevant statute, is entitled to judicial review thereof. An action in a court of the United States seeking relief other than money damages and stating a claim that an agency or an officer or employee thereof acted or failed to act in an official capacity or under color of legal authority shall not be dismissed nor relief therein be denied on the ground that it is against the United States or that the United States is an indispensable party. The United States may be named as a defendant in any such action, and a judgment or decree may be entered against the United States: Provided, that any mandatory or injunctive decree shall specify the Federal officer or officers (by name or by title), and their successors in office, personally responsible for compliance. Nothing herein (1) affects other limitations on judicial review or the power or duty of the court to dismiss any action or deny relief on any other appropriate legal or equitable ground; or (2) confers authority to grant relief if any other statute that grants consent to suit expressly or impliedly forbids the relief which is sought.

5 U.S.C. § 702 (emphasis in original). The APA states that district courts can:

(1) compel agency action unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed; and
(2) hold unlawful and set aside agency action, findings, and conclusions found to be --
(A) arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law;
(B) contrary to constitutional right, power, privilege, or immunity;
(C) in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations, or short of statutory right;
(D) without observance of procedure required by law;
(E) unsupported by substantial evidence in a case subject to sections 556 and 557 of this title or otherwise reviewed on the record of an agency hearing provided by statute; or
(F) unwarranted by the facts to the extent that the facts are subject to trial de novo by the reviewing court.

5 U.S.C. § 706.

         Under Olenhouse v. Commodity Credit Corp., 42 F.3d 1560 (10th Cir. 1994), “[r]eviews of agency action in the district courts [under the APA] must be processed as appeals. In such circumstances the district court should govern itself by referring to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.” 42 F.3d 1560, 1580 (10th Cir. 1994)(emphasis in original). See WildEarth Guardians v. U.S. Forest Serv., 668 F.Supp.2d 1314, 1323 (D.N.M. 2009)(Browning, J.). “As a group, the devices appellate courts normally use are generally more consistent with the APA's judicial review scheme than the devices that trial courts generally use, which presume nothing about the case's merits and divide burdens of proof and production almost equally between the plaintiff and defendant.” N. New Mexicans Protecting Land & Water Rights v. United States, No. CIV 15-0559, 2015 WL 8329509, at *9 (D.N.M. Dec. 4, 2015)(Browning, J.).

         1. Reviewing Agency Factual Determinations.

         Under the APA, a reviewing court must accept an agency's factual determinations in informal proceedings unless they are “arbitrary [or] capricious, ” 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A), and its factual determinations in formal proceedings unless they are “unsupported by substantial evidence, ” 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(E). The APA's two linguistic formulations amount to a single substantive standard of review. See Ass'n of Data Processing Serv. Orgs., Inc. v. Bd. of Governors of Fed. Reserve Sys., 745 F.2d 677, 683-84 (D.C. Cir. 1984)(explaining that, as to factual findings, “there is no substantive difference between what [the arbitrary or capricious standard] requires and what would be required by the substantial evidence test, since it is impossible to conceive of a ‘nonarbitrary' factual judgment supported only by evidence that is not substantial in the APA sense” (emphasis in original)); Ass'n of Data Processing Serv. Orgs., Inc. v. Bd. of Governors of Fed. Reserve Sys., 745 F.2d at 684 (“[T]his does not consign paragraph (E) of the APA's judicial review section to pointlessness. The distinctive function of paragraph (E) -- what it achieves that paragraph (A) does not -- is to require substantial evidence to be found within the record of closed-record proceedings to which it exclusively applies.” (emphasis in original)). See also Jarita Mesa Livestock Grazing Ass'n v. U.S. Forest Serv., 140 F.Supp.3d, 1123 1167-68 (D.N.M. 2015)(Browning, J.)(discussing this fact).

         In reviewing agency action under the arbitrary-or-capricious standard, a court considers the administrative record -- or at least those portions of the record that the parties provide -- and not materials outside of the record. See 5 U.S.C. § 706 (“In making the foregoing determinations, the court shall review the whole record or those parts of it cited by a party . . . .”); Fed. R. App. P. 16(a) (“The record on review or enforcement of an agency order consists of . . . the order involved; . . . any findings or report on which it is based; and . . . the pleadings, evidence, and other parts of the proceedings before the agency.”); Ass'n of Data Processing Serv. Orgs., Inc. v. Bd. of Governors of the Fed. Reserve Sys., 745 F.2d at 684 (“[W]hether the administrator was arbitrary must be determined on the basis of what he had before him when he acted . . . .”). See also Franklin Sav. Ass'n v. Dir., Office of Thrift Supervision, 934 F.2d 1127, 1137 (10th Cir. 1991)(“[W]here Congress has provided for judicial review without setting forth . . . procedures to be followed in conducting that review, the Supreme Court has advised such review shall be confined to the administrative record and, in most instances, no de novo proceedings may be had.” (footnote omitted)). Tenth Circuit precedent indicates, however, that the ordinary evidentiary rules regarding judicial notice apply when a court reviews agency action. See N.M. ex. rel. Richardson v. Bureau of Land Mgmt., 565 F.3d 683 702 n.21 (10th Cir. 2009)(“We take judicial notice of this document, which is included in the record before us in [another case].” (citing Fed.R.Evid. 201(b))); N.M. ex. rel. Richardson v. Bureau of Land Mgmt., 565 F.3d at 702 n.22 (“We conclude that the occurrence of Falcon releases is not subject to reasonable factual dispute and is capable of determination using sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned, and we take judicial notice thereof.”). In contrast, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Ninth and Eleventh Circuits have held that taking judicial notice is inappropriate in APA reviews absent extraordinary circumstances or inadvertent omission from the administrative record. See Compassion Over Killing v. U.S. Food & Drug Admin., 849 F.3d 849, 852 n.1 (9th Cir. 2017); Nat'l Mining Ass'n v. Sec'y U.S. Dep't of Labor, 812 F.3d 843, 875 (11th Cir. 2016).

         To fulfill its function under the APA, a reviewing court should engage in a “thorough, probing, in-depth review” of the record before it when determining whether an agency's decision survives arbitrary-or-capricious review. Wyoming v. United States, 279 F.3d 1214, 1238 (10th Cir. 2002)(citation and internal quotation marks omitted). The Tenth Circuit explains:

“[I]n determining whether the agency acted in an ‘arbitrary and capricious manner,' we must ensure that the agency ‘decision was based on a consideration of the relevant factors' and examine ‘whether there has been a clear error of judgment.'” We consider an agency decision arbitrary and capricious if “the agency . . . relied on factors which Congress had not intended it to consider, entirely failed to consider an important aspect of the problem, offered an explanation for its decision that runs counter to the evidence before the agency, or is so implausible that it could not be ascribed to a difference in view or the product of agency expertise.”

Colo. Envtl. Coal. v. Dombeck, 185 F.3d 1162, 1167 (10th Cir. 1999)(quoting Friends of the Bow v. Thompson, 124 F.3d 1210, 1215 (10th Cir. 1997)). Arbitrary-or-capricious review requires a district court “to engage in a substantive review of the record to determine if the agency considered relevant factors and articulated a reasoned basis for its conclusions, ” Olenhouse v. Commodity Credit Corp., 42 F.3d at 1580, but it is not to assess the wisdom or merits of the agency's decision, see Colo. Envtl. Coal. v. Dombeck, 185 F.3d at 1172. The agency must articulate the same rationale for its findings and conclusions on appeal upon which it relied in its internal proceedings. See SEC v. Chenery Corp., 318 U.S. 80, 92-95 (1943). While the court may not supply a reasoned basis for the agency's action that the agency does not give itself, the court should “uphold a decision of less than ideal clarity if the agency's path may reasonably be discerned.” Bowman Transp., Inc. v. Arkansas-Best Freight Sys., Inc., 419 U.S. 281, 286 (1974)(citation omitted).

         2. Reviewing Agency Legal Interpretations.

         In promulgating and enforcing regulations, agencies must interpret federal statutes, their own regulations, and the Constitution of the United States of America, and Courts reviewing those interpretations apply three different deference standards, depending on the kind of law at issue. First, the federal judiciary accords considerable deference to an agency's interpretation of a statute that Congress has tasked it with enforcing. See United States v. Undetermined Quantities of Bottles of an Article of Veterinary Drug, 22 F.3d 235, 238 (10th Cir. 1994). This is known as Chevron deference, named after the supposedly seminal case, Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resource Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984)(“Chevron”).[7] Chevron deference is a two-step process[8] that first asks whether the statutory provision in question is clear and, if it is not, then asks whether the agency's interpretation of the unclear statute is reasonable; as the Tenth Circuit has explained,

we must be guided by the directives regarding judicial review of administrative agency interpretations of their organic statutes laid down by the Supreme Court in Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 . . . (1984). Those directives require that we first determine whether Congress has directly spoken to the precise question at issue. If the congressional intent is clear, we must give effect to that intent. If the statute is silent or ambiguous on that specific issue, we must determine whether the agency's answer is based on a permissible construction of the statute.

United States v. Undetermined Quantities of Bottles of an Article of Veterinary Drug, 22 F.3d at 238 (citing Chevron, 467 U.S. at 842-43).

         Chevron's second step is all but toothless, because if the agency's decision makes it to step two, it is upheld almost without exception. See Jason J. Czarnezki, An Empirical Investigation of Judicial Decisionmaking, Statutory Interpretation, and the Chevron Doctrine in Environmental Law, 79 U. Colo. L. Rev. 767, 775 (2008)(“Due to the difficulty in defining step two, courts rarely strike down agency action under step two, and the Supreme Court has done so arguably only twice.”); Ronald M. Levin, The Anatomy of Chevron: Step Two Reconsidered, 72 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 1253, 1261 (1997)(“[T]he Court has never once struck down an agency's interpretation by relying squarely on the second Chevron step.”). Courts essentially never conclude that an agency's interpretation of an unclear statute is unreasonable.

         Chevron's first step, in contrast, has bite, but there is substantial disagreement about what it means. The Court has noted the varying approaches that different Supreme Court Justices have taken in applying Chevron deference:

The Court notices a parallel between the doctrine of constitutional avoidance and the Chevron doctrine. Those Justices, such as Justice Scalia, who are most loyal to the doctrines and the most likely to apply them, are also the most likely to keep the “steps” of the doctrines separate: first, determining whether the statute is ambiguous; and, only then, assessing the merits of various permissible interpretations from the first step. These Justices are also the most likely to find that the statute is unambiguous, thus obviating the need to apply the second step of each doctrine. Those Justices more likely to find ambiguity in statutes are more likely to eschew applying the doctrines in the first place, out of their distaste for their second steps -- showing heavy deference to agencies for Chevron doctrine, and upholding facially overbroad statutes, for constitutional avoidance.

Griffin v. Bryant, 30 F.Supp.3d 1139, 1192 n.23 (D.N.M. 2014)(Browning, J.). A number of policy considerations animate Chevron deference, among them: (i) statutory interpretation, i.e., that Congress, by passing extremely open-ended and vague organic statutes, grants discretionary power to the agencies to fill in the statutory gaps; (ii) institutional competency, i.e., that agencies are more competent than the courts at filling out the substantive law in their field; (iii) political accountability, i.e., that agencies, as executive bodies ultimately headed by the President of the United States of America, can be held politically accountable for their interpretations; and (iv) efficiency, i.e., that numerous, subject-matter specialized agencies can more efficiently promulgate the massive amount of interpretation required to maintain the modern regulatory state -- found in the Code of Federal Regulations and other places -- than a unified but Circuit-fragmented federal judiciary can.

         Second, when agencies interpret their own regulations -- to, for example, adjudicate whether a regulated party complied with them -- courts accord agencies what is known as Auer or Seminole Rock deference. See Auer v. Robbins, 519 U.S. 452 (1997)(“Auer”); Bowles v. Seminole Rock & Sand Co., 325 U.S. 410 (1945)(“Seminole Rock”). This deference is applied in the same manner as Chevron deference and is substantively identical. There would be little reason to have a separate name for this doctrine, except that its logical underpinnings are much shakier, and its future is, accordingly, more uncertain. The Honorable Antonin Scalia, Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, after years of applying the doctrine followed by years of questioning its soundness, finally denounced Auer deference in 2013 in his dissent in Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center, 568 U.S. 597 (2013). The Court cannot describe the reasons for Justice Scalia's abandonment of the doctrine better than the Justice himself:

For decades, and for no good reason, we have been giving agencies the authority to say what their rules mean, under the harmless-sounding banner of “defer[ring] to an agency's interpretation of its own regulations.” This is generally called Seminole Rock or Auer deference.
. . . .
The canonical formulation of Auer deference is that we will enforce an agency's interpretation of its own rules unless that interpretation is “plainly erroneous or inconsistent with the regulation.” But of course whenever the agency's interpretation of the regulation is different from the fairest reading, it is in that sense “inconsistent” with the regulation. Obviously, that is not enough, or there would be nothing for Auer to do. In practice, Auer deference is Chevron deference applied to regulations rather than statutes. The agency's interpretation will be accepted if, though not the fairest reading of the regulation, it is a plausible reading - - within the scope of the ambiguity that the regulation contains.
Our cases have not put forward a persuasive justification for Auer deference. The first case to apply it, Seminole Rock, offered no justification whatever -- just the ipse dixit that “the administrative interpretation . . . becomes of controlling weight unless it is plainly erroneous or inconsistent with the regulation.” Our later cases provide two principal explanations, neither of which has much to be said for it. First, some cases say that the agency, as the drafter of the rule, will have some special insight into its intent when enacting it. The implied premise of this argument -- that what we are looking for is the agency's intent in adopting the rule -- is false. There is true of regulations what is true of statutes. As Justice Holmes put it: “[w]e do not inquire what the legislature meant; we ask only what the statute means.” Whether governing rules are made by the national legislature or an administrative agency, we are bound by what they say, not by the unexpressed intention of those who made them.
The other rationale our cases provide is that the agency possesses special expertise in administering its “complex and highly technical regulatory program.” That is true enough, and it leads to the conclusion that agencies and not courts should make regulations. But it has nothing to do with who should interpret regulations -- unless one believes that the purpose of interpretation is to make the regulatory program work in a fashion that the current leadership of the agency deems effective. Making regulatory programs effective is the purpose of rulemaking, in which the agency uses its “special expertise” to formulate the best rule. But the purpose of interpretation is to determine the fair meaning of the rule - - to “say what the law is.” Not to make policy, but to determine what policy has been made and promulgated by the agency, to which the public owes obedience. Indeed, since the leadership of agencies (and hence the policy preferences of agencies) changes with Presidential administrations, an agency head can only be sure that the application of his “special expertise” to the issue addressed by a regulation will be given effect if we adhere to predictable principles of textual interpretation rather than defer to the “special expertise” of his successors. If we take agency enactments as written, the Executive has a stable background against which to write its rules and achieve the policy ends it thinks best.
Another conceivable justification for Auer deference, though not one that is to be found in our cases, is this: If it is reasonable to defer to agencies regarding the meaning of statutes that Congress enacted, as we do per Chevron, it is a fortiori reasonable to defer to them regarding the meaning of regulations that they themselves crafted. To give an agency less control over the meaning of its own regulations than it has over the meaning of a congressionally enacted statute seems quite odd.
But it is not odd at all. The theory of Chevron (take it or leave it) is that when Congress gives an agency authority to administer a statute, including authority to issue interpretive regulations, it implicitly accords the agency a degree of discretion, which the courts must respect, regarding the meaning of the statute. While the implication of an agency power to clarify the statute is reasonable enough, there is surely no congressional implication that the agency can resolve ambiguities in its own regulations. For that would violate a fundamental principle of separation of powers -- that the power to write a law and the power to interpret it cannot rest in the same hands. “When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person . . . there can be no liberty; because apprehensions may arise, lest the same monarch or senate should enact tyrannical laws, to execute them in a tyrannical manner.” Congress cannot enlarge its own power through Chevron -- whatever it leaves vague in the statute will be worked out by someone else. Chevron represents a presumption about who, as between the Executive and the Judiciary, that someone else will be. (The Executive, by the way -- the competing political branch -- is the less congenial repository of the power as far as Congress is concerned.) So Congress's incentive is to speak as clearly as possible on the matters it regards as important.
But when an agency interprets its own rules -- that is something else. Then the power to prescribe is augmented by the power to interpret; and the incentive is to speak vaguely and broadly, so as to retain a “flexibility” that will enable “clarification” with retroactive effect. “It is perfectly understandable” for an agency to “issue vague regulations” if doing so will “maximiz[e] agency power.” Combining the power to prescribe with the power to interpret is not a new evil: Blackstone condemned the practice of resolving doubts about “the construction of the Roman laws” by “stat[ing] the case to the emperor in writing, and tak[ing] his opinion upon it.” And our Constitution did not mirror the British practice of using the House of Lords as a court of last resort, due in part to the fear that he who has “agency in passing bad laws” might operate in the “same spirit” in their interpretation. Auer deference encourages agencies to be “vague in framing regulations, with the plan of issuing ‘interpretations' to create the intended new law without observance of notice and comment procedures.” Auer is not a logical corollary to Chevron but a dangerous permission slip for the arrogation of power.
It is true enough that Auer deference has the same beneficial pragmatic effect as Chevron deference: The country need not endure the uncertainty produced by divergent views of numerous district courts and courts of appeals as to what is the fairest reading of the regulation, until a definitive answer is finally provided, years later, by this Court. The agency's view can be relied upon, unless it is, so to speak, beyond the pale. But the duration of the uncertainty produced by a vague regulation need not be as long as the uncertainty produced by a vague statute. For as soon as an interpretation uncongenial to the agency is pronounced by a district court, the agency can begin the process of amending the regulation to make its meaning entirely clear. The circumstances of this case demonstrate the point. While these cases were being briefed before us, EPA issued a rule designed to respond to the Court of Appeals judgment we are reviewing. It did so (by the standards of such things) relatively quickly: The decision below was handed down in May 2011, and in December 2012 the EPA published an amended rule setting forth in unmistakable terms the position it argues here. And there is another respect in which a lack of Chevron-type deference has less severe pragmatic consequences for rules than for statutes. In many cases, when an agency believes that its rule permits conduct that the text arguably forbids, it can simply exercise its discretion not to prosecute. That is not possible, of course, when, as here, a party harmed by the violation has standing to compel enforcement.
In any case, however great may be the efficiency gains derived from Auer deference, beneficial effect cannot justify a rule that not only has no principled basis but contravenes one of the great rules of separation of powers: He who writes a law must not adjudge its violation.

Decker v. Nw. Envtl. Def. Ctr., 568 U.S. at 616-21 (Scalia, J., dissenting)(alterations and emphasis in original)(citations omitted). Although the Court shares Justice Scalia's concerns about Auer deference, it is, for the time being, the law of the land, and, as a federal district court, the Court must apply it.

         Last, courts afford agencies no deference in interpreting the Constitution. See U.S. W., Inc. v. FCC, 182 F.3d 1224, 1231 (10th Cir. 1999)(“[A]n unconstitutional interpretation is not entitled to Chevron deference. . . . [D]eference to an agency interpretation is inappropriate not only when it is conclusively unconstitutional, but also when it raises serious constitutional questions.” (citing, e.g., Rust v. Sullivan, 500 U.S. 173, 190-91 (1991))). Courts have superior competence in interpreting -- and constitutionally vested authority and responsibility to interpret -- the Constitution's content. The presence of a constitutional claim does not take a court's review outside of the APA, however -- § 706(2)(B) specifically contemplates adjudication of constitutional issues -- and courts must still respect agency fact-finding and the administrative record when reviewing agency action for constitutional infirmities; they just should not defer to the agency on issues of substantive legal interpretation. See, e.g., Robbins v. U.S. Bureau of Land Mgmt., 438 F.3d 1074, 1085 (10th Cir. 2006)(“We review Robbins' [constitutional] due process claim against the [agency] under the framework set forth in the APA.”).

         3. Waiving Sovereign Immunity.

         The APA waives sovereign immunity with respect to non-monetary claims. See 5 U.S.C. § 702. The statute provides:

An action in a court of the United States seeking relief other than money damages and stating a claim that an agency or an officer or employee thereof acted or failed to act in an official capacity or under color of legal authority shall not be dismissed nor relief therein be denied on the ground that it is against the United States or that the United States is an indispensable party. The United States may be named as a defendant in any such action, and a judgment or decree may be entered against the United States . . . .

5 U.S.C. § 702. Claims for money damages seek monetary relief “to substitute for a suffered loss.” Normandy Apartments, Ltd. v. U.S. Dep't of Hous. & Urban Dev., 554 F.3d 1290, 1298 (10th Cir. 2009)(emphasis in original). Claims that do not seek monetary relief or that seek “specific remedies that have the effect of compelling monetary relief” are not claims for monetary damages. Normandy Apartments, Ltd. v. U.S. Dep't of Hous. & Urban Dev., 554 F.3d at 1298. To determine whether a claim seeks monetary relief, a court must “look beyond the face of the complaint” and assess the plaintiff's prime objective or essential purpose; “[a] plaintiff's prime objective or essential purpose is monetary unless the non-monetary relief sought has significant prospective effect or considerable value apart from the claim for monetary relief.” Normandy Apartments, Ltd. v. U.S. Dep't of Hous. & Urban Dev., 554 F.3d at 1296 (internal quotation marks omitted)(quoting Burkins v. United States, 112 F.3d 444, 449 (10th Cir. 1997)).

         The APA's sovereign immunity waiver for claims “seeking relief other than money damages” does not apply, however, “if any other statute that grants consent to suit expressly or impliedly forbids the relief which is sought.” 5 U.S.C. § 702. The Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346, 1491, permits district courts to hear some claims against the United States, but it also states that “district courts shall not have jurisdiction of any civil action or claim against the United States founded upon any express or implied contract with the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1346(a)(2). It follows that the APA does not waive the United States' sovereign immunity as to contract claims even when those claims seek relief other than money damages, such as declaratory or injunctive relief. See Normandy Apartments, Ltd. v. U.S. Dep't of Hous. & Urban Dev., 554 F.3d at 1295. Consequently, two questions determine whether the APA waives the United States' sovereign immunity as to a particular claim: “First, does [the] claim seek ‘relief other than money damages,' such that the APA's general waiver of sovereign immunity is even implicated? Second, does the Tucker Act expressly or impliedly forbid the relief that [the plaintiff] seeks, such that the APA's waiver does not apply?” Normandy Apartments, Ltd. v. U.S. Dep't of Hous. & Urban Dev., 554 F.3d at 1296 (quoting 5 U.S.C. § 702).

         LAW REGARDING THE ISDA

         The ISDA authorizes American Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations to contract with either the Department of the Interior (“DOI”) or the Health and Human Services (“HHS”) Secretary[9] to provide their members federally funded services that a federal agency would otherwise provide directly. See 25 U.S.C. § 5302(b); S. Rep. No. 100-274, at 1 (1987), reprinted in 1988 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 2620 (“1987 Senate Report”). When Congress passed the ISDA in 1975, it recognized that “the prolonged Federal dominion of Indian service programs has served to retard rather than enhance the progress of Indian people and their communities, ” and has “denied to the Indian people an effective voice in the planning and implementation of programs for the benefit of Indians.” 25 U.S.C. § 5301(a)(1). Congress thus enacted the ISDA to “permit an orderly transition of federal domination of programs for, and services to, Indians to effective and meaningful participation by the Indian people in the planning, conduct, and administration of those programs and services.” 25 U.S.C. § 5302(b).

         An ISDA contract proposal typically consists of two parts: (i) a multi-year agreement that satisfies 25 U.S.C. § 5329(a); and (ii) an annual funding agreement (“AFA”). See 25 U.S.C. § 5324(c). The AFA must contain: (i) “terms that identify the programs, services, functions, and activities to be performed or administered, the general budget category assigned, the funds to be provided, and the time and method of payment”; and (ii) “such other provisions, including a brief description of the programs, services, functions, and activities to be performed (including those supported by financial resources other than those provided by the Secretary), to which the parties agree.” 25 U.S.C. § 5329(c).

         1. The Declination Process.

         The ISDA contracting process begins when a Tribe or Tribal organization submits a contract proposal to the Secretary. See 25 U.S.C. § 5301(a)(2). Unless the Tribe or Tribal organization agrees to an extension, the Secretary must approve or decline the proposal within ninety days. See 25 U.S.C. § 5321(a)(1), (a)(2); 25 C.F.R. §§ 900.16, 900.17. Otherwise, the proposal is deemed approved. See 25 U.S.C. § 5321(a)(2); 25 C.F.R. § 900.18.

         Should the Secretary decide to decline the proposal in part or in its entirety, he or she must do so based on one of these five reasons:

(A) the service to be rendered to the Indian beneficiaries of the particular program or function to be contracted will not be satisfactory;
(B) adequate protection of trust resources is not assured;
(C) the proposed project or function to be contracted for cannot be properly completed or maintained by the proposed contract;
(D) the amount of funds proposed under the contract is in excess of the applicable funding level for the contract, as determined under section 450j-1(a) of this title; or
(E) the program, function, service, or activity (or portion thereof) that is the subject of the proposal is beyond the scope of programs, functions, services, or activities, . . . because the proposal includes activities that cannot lawfully be carried out by the contractor.

25 U.S.C. § 5321(a)(2). See 25 C.F.R. § 900.22 (setting forth the same declination criteria).

         There are a number of limitations on the Secretary's authority to apply § 5321(a)(2)'s declination criteria. The Secretary cannot decline a contract renewal proposal “where no material and substantial change to the scope or funding of a program, functions, services, or activities has been proposed by the Indian Tribe or Tribal organization.” 25 C.F.R. § 900.33. Similarly, the Secretary cannot decline a successor AFA proposal that is “substantially the same” as its predecessor. 25 C.F.R. § 900.32. The Secretary also cannot decline any proposal based on any objections “that will be overcome through the contract.” 25 C.F.R. § 900.33. Moreover, if the Secretary can decline only a portion of a contract proposal, he or she must approve all other severable portions of the proposal. See 25 C.F.R. § 900.25.

         After the Secretary declines a proposal, he or she must: (i) state any objections in writing to the Tribe or Tribal organization; (ii) provide assistance to the Tribe or Tribal organization to overcome the stated objections; and (iii) provide the Tribe or Tribal organization with a hearing on the record with the right to engage in full discovery on any issue raised in the matter and the opportunity to appeal the Secretary's objections. See 25 U.S.C. § 5321(b). The Tribe or Tribal organization may, in lieu of filing an appeal, initiate an action in federal district court. See 25 U.S.C. §§ 5321(b)(3), 5331(a). In any hearing, appeal, or action in federal court regarding a contract declination, the Secretary bears “the burden of proof to establish by clearly demonstrating the validity of the grounds for declining the contract proposal (or portion thereof).” 25 U.S.C. § 5321(e)(1). Courts faced with ISDA declination claims have thus required the Secretary to establish “by clear and convincing evidence” the validity of the grounds of his or her declination decision. S. Ute Indian Tribe v. Leavitt, 497 F.Supp.2d 1198, 1252 (10th Cir. 2009). See Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe v. Kempthorne, 496 F.Supp.2d 1059, 1068 (D.S.D. 2007)(Kornmann, J.).

         2. The Reassumption Process.

         The Secretary also has the authority to reassume ISDA contracts. See 25 U.S.C. § 5330. Reassumption means “rescission, in whole or in part, of a contract and assuming or resuming control or operation of the contracted program . . . without consent of the Indian Tribe or Tribal organization.” 25 C.F.R. § 900.246. A federal agency within the DOI or the HHS may unilaterally reassume a contract either on an emergency or a non-emergency basis. See 25 C.F.R. § 900.246. An emergency reassumption is permitted when a Tribe or Tribal organization fails to fulfill the ISDA contract's requirements, and that failure poses: (i) an immediate threat of imminent harm to the safety of any person; or (ii) an imminent substantial and irreparable harm to trust funds, trust lands, or interest in such lands. See 25 C.F.R. § 900.247. A non-emergency reassumption is permitted when there has been: (i) a violation of the rights, or endangerment of the health, safety, or welfare, of any person; or (ii) gross negligence or mismanagement in the handling or use of contract funds, trust funds, trust lands, or interest in trust lands under the contract. See 25 C.F.R. § 900.247.

         In an emergency reassumption, the Secretary must: (i) immediately rescind, in whole or in part, the contract; (ii) assume control or operation of all or part of the program; and (iii) give written notice of the rescission to the Tribe or Tribal organization, and to the community that the contract serves. See 25 C.F.R. § 900.252. The written notice must include: (i) a detailed statement of the findings that support the Secretary's decision; (ii) a statement explaining the Tribe or Tribal organization's right to a hearing on the record within ten days of the reassumption, or such later date as the Tribe or Tribal organization may approve; (iii) an explanation that the Tribe or Tribal organization may be reimbursed for actual and reasonable “wind up costs” incurred after the effective date of the reassumption; and (iv) a request for the return of property, if any. 25 C.F.R. § 900.253.

         In a non-emergency reassumption, the Secretary must: (i) notify the Tribe or Tribal organization in writing of the deficiencies in contract performance; (ii) ask the Tribe or Tribal organization to take specific corrective action within a reasonable period of time, which cannot be less than forty-five days; and (iii) offer and provide, if requested, the necessary technical assistance and advice to help the Tribe or Tribal organization overcome the deficiencies. See 25 C.F.R. § 900.248. If the Tribal organization fails to ameliorate the deficiencies, the Secretary shall provide a second written notice to the Tribe or Tribal organization that the Secretary will reassume the contract, in whole or in part. See 25 C.F.R. § 900.249. The second written notice shall include: (i) the intended effective date of the reassumption; (ii) the details and facts supporting the intended reassumption; and (iii) an explanation of the Tribe or Tribal organization's right to a formal hearing within thirty days of receiving the notice. See 25 C.F.R. § 900.250. The Secretary cannot reassume the contract before the issuance of a final decision in any administrative hearing or appeal. See 25 C.F.R. § 900.251.

         3. The ISDA and the FTCA.

         The United States has provided that it will assume liability under the FTCA for activities undertaken by Tribal agencies under 638 contracts. See 25 U.S.C. § 5321. First, in 1988, Congress enacted Pub. L. 93-638 to extend FTCA coverage to individuals engaged in health care services. See Jessie Huff Durham, Responsible Sovereignty: How Tribes Can Use Protections Provided in P.L. 93-638 and P.L. 101-512 to Their Advantage Without Taking Advantage, Tulsa L.J. 35, 55-56 (1999). Section 5321 now provides:

For purposes of section 233 of Title 42, with respect to claims by any person, initially filed on or after December 22, 1987, whether or not such person is an Indian or Alaska Native or is served on a fee basis or under other circumstances as permitted by Federal law or regulations for personal injury, including death, resulting from the performance prior to, including, or after December 22, 1987, of medical, surgical, dental, or related functions, including the conduct of clinical studies or investigations, or for purposes of section 2679, Title 28, [part of the FTCA] with respect to claims by any such person, on or after November 29, 1990, for personal injury, including death, resulting from the operation of an emergency motor vehicle, an Indian Tribe, a Tribal organization or Indian contractor carrying out a contract, grant agreement, or cooperative agreement under sections 5321 or 5322 of this title is deemed to be part of the Public Health Service in the Department of Health and Human Services while carrying out any such contract or agreement and its employees (including those acting on behalf of the organization or contractor as provided in section 2671 of Title 28, and including an individual who provides health care services pursuant to a personal services contract with a Tribal organization for the provision of services in any facility owned, operated, or constructed under the jurisdiction of the Indian Health Service) are deemed employees of the Service while acting within the scope of their employment in carrying out the contract or agreement: Provided, That such employees shall be deemed to be acting within the scope of their employment in carrying out such contract or agreement when they are required, by reason of such employment, to perform medical, surgical, dental or related functions at a facility other than the facility operated pursuant to such contract or agreement, but only if such employees are not compensated for the performance of such functions by a person or entity other than such Indian Tribe, Tribal organization or Indian contractor.

25 U.S.C. § 5321. Then, in the Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriation Act for 1991, Pub. L. 101-512, 104 Stat. 1915, Congress included a note to 25 U.S.C. § 5321, extending the FTCA applicability to all activities undertaken pursuant to 638 contracts:

With respect to claims resulting from the performance of functions during fiscal year 1991 and thereafter, or claims asserted after September 30, 1990, but resulting from the performance of functions prior to fiscal year 1991, under a contract, grant agreement, or any other agreement or compact authorized by the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975, as amended . . ., an Indian Tribe, Tribal organization or Indian contractor is deemed hereafter to be part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the Department of the Interior or the Indian Health Service in the Department of Health and Human Services while carrying out any such contract or agreement and its employees are deemed employees of the Bureau or Service while acting within the scope of their employment in carrying out the contract or agreement: Provided, That after September 30, 1990, any civil action or proceeding involving such claims brought hereafter against any Tribe, Tribal organization, Indian contractor or Tribal employee covered by this provision shall be deemed to be an action against the United States and will be defended by the Attorney General and be afforded the full protection and coverage of the FTCA; Provided further, That beginning with the fiscal year ending September 30, 1991, and thereafter, the appropriate Secretary shall request through annual appropriations funds sufficient to reimburse the Treasury for any claims paid in the prior fiscal year pursuant to the foregoing provisions: Provided further, That nothing in this section shall in any way affect the provisions of [25 U.S.C. § 5301].

Pub. L. 101-512, 104 Stat. 1959 (1990), as amended Pub. L. 103-138, 107 Stat. 1416 (1993).

         4. Relief Available Under the ISDA.

         The ISDA provides a comprehensive range of remedies for a Tribe or Tribal organization whose contract the Secretary unlawfully terminates. See 25 U.S.C. § 5331(a). Section 5331(a) provides that, in an ISDA action, a federal district court “may order appropriate relief, ” including

money damages, injunctive relief against any action by an officer of the United States or any agency thereof contrary to this subchapter or regulations promulgated thereunder, or mandamus to compel an officer or employee of the United States, or any agency thereof, to perform a duty provided under this subchapter or regulations promulgated hereunder (including immediate injunctive relief to reverse a declination finding under section 450f(a)(2) of this title or to compel the Secretary to award and fund an approved self-determination contract).

25 U.S.C. § 5331(a).

         Applying § 5331(a) to the DOI Secretary's contract declination decision in Crownpoint Institute of Technology v. Norton, No. CIV 04-0531 JP/DJS, Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, filed September 16, 2005 (D.N.M.)(Parker, J.)(unpublished), the Honorable James A. Parker, United States Senior District Judge for the District of New Mexico, said that “[t]he specific mandamus relief authorized by the ISDA relieves [the plaintiff] of proving the usual equitable elements including irreparable injury and absence of an adequate remedy at law.” Crownpoint Inst. of Tech. v. Norton, Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law at 26 (citing Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. v. Lennen, 644 F.2d 255, 260 (1981); Star Fuel Marts, LLC v. Sam's East, Inc., 362 F.3d 639, 651-52 (10th Cir. 2004); Shadid v. Fleming, 160 F.2d 752, 753 (10th Cir. 1947)). Other federal district courts have similarly concluded that a Tribe or Tribal organization does not need to demonstrate the traditional grounds for equitable relief to obtain injunctive or mandamus relief under the ISDA. See, e.g., Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe v. Burwell, No. CIV 13-1771 CRC, 2014 WL 5013206, at *7 (D.D.C. Oct. 7, 2014)(Cooper, J.)(“Because the [ISDA] specifically provides for both injunctive and mandamus relief to remedy violations of the Act, 25 U.S.C. § 450m-1(a) [(now § 5331(a))], however, the Tribe need not demonstrate the traditional equitable grounds for obtaining the relief it seeks.”); Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians v. Dep't of the Interior, 624 F.Supp.2d 1, 25 (D.D.C. 2009)(Kollar-Kotelly, J.)(granting specific performance on an ISDA contract without considering the ordinary grounds for such relief because injunctive relief is provided for in the statute); Susanville Indian Rancheria v. Leavitt, No. CIV 07-0259 GEB/DAD, 2008 WL 58951, at *10-11 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 3, 2008)(Burrell, J.)(holding that a plaintiff seeking injunctive relief under the ISDA need not satisfy the traditional equitable requirements); Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe v. Kempthorne, 496 F.Supp.2d at 1068 (ordering a writ of mandamus where the plaintiffs had not established the traditional equitable requirements, but had established that the Secretary's contract declination decision violated the ISDA).

         THE ISDA'S LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

         If possible, the Court interprets statutes according to the statutory text's plain meaning and structure. When the text's meaning and structure leave ambiguities, however, even the ardent textualist “routinely takes purpose into account, but in its concrete manifestations as deduced from close reading of the text.” Antonin Scalia & Bryan A. Garner, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts 20 (2012). The Court gives special interpretive weight to committee reports, [10] which congressional staffers consider the most reliable sources of congressional intent. See Abbe R. Gluck & Lisa Schultz Bressman, Statutory Interpretation from the Inside -- An Empirical Study of Congressional Drafting, Delegation, and the Canons: Part I, 65 Stan. L. Rev. 901, 977 fig.8 (2013). Given the central role that the Executive Branch played in ISDA history, the Court also examines related presidential signing statements.[11] Historical background is woven throughout the discussion as needed to knit a process that transpired over a quarter century into a coherent narrative.

         1. Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975.

         The ISDA became law in 1975. See Pub. L. No. 93-638, 88 Stat. 2203 (1975). In this section, the Court first examines the ISDA's historical background. It then looks to the House and Senate Committee reports, and to President Ford's signing statement to uncover legislative intent.

         a. Background.

         The 1960s, a decade that unmoored so many other longstanding federal policies, barely left a ripple in federal policies related to American Indian self-determination. Shortly after his Senate confirmation in 1961, Stewart Udall, President John F. Kennedy's Secretary, assembled a taskforce to study the issue of American Indian self-determination. See Udall Tells of Plan for Reorganization, N.Y. Times, Jan. 29, 1961, at ¶ 32. Yet the task force accomplished little of practical value, more replete with grandiloquence than grand strategy. See Bureau of Indian Affairs, Report of Task Force on Indian Affairs at 2-7 (1961)(“1961 Report of Task Force”). In a stunning rebuke of the very concept of self-determination even at the ideational stage, Udall paternalistically told task force members that “test[ing] our thinking against the thinking of the wisest Indians and their friends did not mean that we are going to let, as someone put it, the Indian people decide what the policy should be.” 1961 Report of Task Force at 2. For the remainder of the Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson Administrations, neither the White House nor Congress paid much attention to American Indians. See generally Thomas Francis Clarkin, The New Trail and the Great Society: Federal Indian Policy During the Kennedy-Johnson Administrations (May 1998)(unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas at Austin)(on file with ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global).

         Beginning in the 1960s, the Indian Health Service (“IHS ”) also faced problems along many fronts, including congressional attempts to control its budget. See Leah Kalm-Freeman, The Community Health Representative Program: Early Voices and Program History 115-18 (June 2009)(unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Johns Hopkins University)(on file with ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global)(providing an easily digestible summary of IHS finances and budgetary concerns from the late 1950s until the passage of the ISDA). For their part, Tribal leaders nationwide began to agitate for a greater say in healthcare services on their reservations. See, e.g., Indians of North America, Declaration of Indian Purpose: The Voice of the American Indian 9-10 (1961)(coauthored by leaders of sixty-seven American Indian Tribes). Tribes also began to undertake small federally funded local projects through Indian Community Action Programs established under President Johnson's War on Poverty, spurring greater American Indian agitation for self-determination in general. See Sar Levitan & Barbara Hetrick, Big Brother's Indian Programs, With Reservations 90 (1971).

         During his presidential campaign in 1968, Richard M. Nixon issued a statement to the National Congress of American Indians in Omaha, Nebraska in which he seconded Tribes' calls for greater self-determination. See Richard Nixon and the American Indian: The Movement to Self-Determination (Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian broadcast Nov. 15, 2012) at 20:14-:30, https://www.nixonfoundation.org/2012/11/nixon-and-the-american-indian-the-movement-to-self-determination/ (“Smithsonian Video”).

         Nixon did not forget this support for greater American Indian self-determination after the election.[12] On October 8, 1969, Nixon sent Vice President Spiro Agnew to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to deliver a speech on the topic to lay the groundwork for American Indian legislation that Nixon's domestic policy advisers were drafting. See Smithsonian Video at 24:15-25:21. The legislative proposal was ready by the following summer, and Nixon proposed to Congress, at the start of July 1970, what eventually would become the ISDA. See Richard Nixon, Special Message to the Congress on Indian Affairs (July 8, 1970), reprinted in The American Presidency Project (John Woolley & Gerhard Peters eds.), https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/special-message-the-congress-indian-affairs (last visited Nov. 21, 2016)(“Nixon's Special Message to Congress”).[13]

         Decrying the disorientation and excessive dependency that federal hegemony over American Indian healthcare had spawned as “morally and legally unacceptable, ” Nixon challenged Congress (i) to assure Tribes that the federal government would continue to perform its treaty and trusteeship obligations;[14] and (ii) to guarantee that, “whenever Indian groups decided to assume control or responsibility for government service programs, they could do so and still receive adequate Federal financial support.” Nixon's Special Message to Congress § 1. The second assurance, according to Nixon, is a very important rejection of suffocating paternalism and bureaucratic inefficiency in favor of American Indian self-determination. See Nixon's Special Message to Congress § 1.

         Nixon told Congress that the assumption prevailing at the time was that American Indian programs could not exist without Federal administration. See Nixon's Special Message to Congress § 1. Nixon said that he believed this assumption is incorrect and that there is no reason that Congress should deprive American Indians of the privilege of self-determination merely because they receive monetary support from the federal government. See Nixon's Special Message to Congress § 2. In Nixon's opinion, it “should be up to the Indian Tribe to determine whether it is willing and able to assume administrative responsibility for a service program which is presently administered by a Federal agency.” Nixon's Special Message to Congress § 3. He therefore proposed legislation that would:

empower a Tribe or a group of Tribes or any other Indian community to take over the control or operation of Federally-funded and administered programs in the Department of the Interior and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare whenever the Tribal council or comparable community governing group voted to do so.

Nixon's Special Message to Congress § 3.[15]

         Nixon proposed that discretion to take on a program or to not take on a program should lie completely with American Indians; it would not be necessary for the federal agency administering a program to approve the transfer of responsibility to a Tribe or Tribal organization, nor could a Tribe or Tribal organization be compelled into a transfer it did not want. See Nixon's Special Message to Congress § 3. Tribes or Tribal organizations also would, under Nixon's proposal, retain the “right of retrocession, ” by which he meant that an American Indian group could elect to administer a program and then later decide to give it back to the federal government. Nixon's Special Message to Congress § 3. Nixon wanted appropriate technical assistance to help local organizations successfully operate programs they took over and for locally administered programs to be funded on equal terms with services that federal agencies continue to administer. See Nixon's Special Message to Congress § 3.

         Nixon said that his proposed legislation would triply benefit American Indians. See Nixon's Special Message to Congress § 3. First, Nixon wrote, contracting out programs to Tribes or Tribal organizations would directly channel more money into American Indian communities, because American Indians -- not federal bureaucrats -- would be administering the programs and drawing salaries. See Nixon's Special Message to Congress § 3. Second, Nixon contended, contracting out programs to Tribes or Tribal organizations would “help build greater pride and resourcefulness within the Indian community.” Nixon's Special Message to Congress § 3. Third, Nixon asserted, American Indians would get better and more efficacious programs if the people whom the programs most directly affected were responsible for creating them. See Nixon's Special Message to Congress § 9.

         Nixon insisted that, “[a]s we move ahead in this important work, it is essential that the Indian people continue to lead the way by participating in policy development to the greatest possible degree.” Nixon's Special Message to Congress § 9. According to Nixon, the federal government has not always realized that it needs American Indian energy and leadership if its assistance is to be effective in improving the conditions of American Indian life. See Nixon's Special Message to Congress § 9. Nixon concluded that his proposed legislation would turn a new page, however, striking a “new and balanced relationship between the United States government and the first Americans . . . .” Nixon's Special Message to Congress § 9.

         During 1970 and 1971, Nixon Administration officials met with Tribal leaders at ten regional conferences and discussed the President's proposed legislation with them. See generally Smithsonian Video. The ISDA's first version was introduced in the Senate as 92 S. 3157 on February 9, 1972, and was reported to the Senate on July 27, 1972. See Indian Self-Determination Act of 1972, S. 3157, 92d Cong. (1972)(“1972 ISDA”). It was referred to the House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs on August 3, 1972, see 1972 ISDA, but it died there as Washington became embroiled in the Watergate scandal and the related conviction of some of Nixon's White House aides, see Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein, The Final Days 14-17 (2005)(providing a detailed chronology of the last two years of Nixon's presidency).

         Undaunted, Nixon called for greater American Indian self-determination in his fourth State of the Union Address in 1973.[16] In that Address, Nixon indicated that his Administration would continue to advance opportunities for American Indian self-determination. See Richard Nixon, State of the Union Message to the Congress on Human Resources, 61 Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States 143-44 (1973)(John Woolley & Gerhard Peters eds. 2005)(“1973 Address”). Expounding in more depth on the same issue, Nixon said:

Just as it is essential to put more decision-making in the hands of the State and local governments, I continue to believe that Indian Tribal governments should assume greater responsibility for programs of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare which operate on their reservations. As I first proposed in 1970, I recommend that the Congress enact the necessary legislation to facilitate this take-over of responsibility.

1973 Address at 144 (emphasis in the original). Nixon continued:

Meanwhile the new statutory provisions for Indian Tribal governments under General Revenue Sharing will assist responsible Tribal governments in allocating extra resources with greater flexibility. I shall also propose new legislation to foster local Indian self-determination by developing an Interior Department program of bloc[k] grants to Federally recognized Tribes as a replacement for a number of existing economic and resource development programs. The primary purpose of these grants would be to provide Tribal governments with funds which they could use at their own discretion to promote development of their reservations.

1973 Address at 144 (emphasis in the original). Nixon concluded his remarks on American Indians with an expression of exasperation with Congress for having failed to pass the version of the ISDA that he had proposed in his Nixon's Special Message and said that, “[t]o accelerate organizational reform, I have directed the Secretary of the Interior to transfer day to day operational activities of the Bureau of Indian Affairs out of Washington to its field offices.” 1973 Address at 144.

         The bill languished in committee for nearly a year before Nixon drove home the pressing need for it in his 1974 State of the Union Address. See Richard Nixon, Annual Message to the Congress on the State of the Union, 26 Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States 56 (1974)(John Woolley & Gerhard Peters eds. 2005)(“1974 Address”). Perhaps sensing that this address would be his final opportunity to advocate for American Indian self-determination in a State of the Union Address, Nixon spoke passionately:

For too many years the American Indians -- the first Americans -- have been the last Americans to receive the rights and opportunities to which they are entitled. This Administration has taken the initiative to change this picture. For its part, the Federal Government must put behind it the role of autocratic manager of Indian reservations. We shall continue to encourage Indians and their Tribal governments to play an increasing role in determining their own future.

         1974 Address at 75. Nixon noted that “[o]ne measure of our attempt to foster a better, more humane policy is the level of Federal funding benefitting American Indians -- over twice what it was five years ago or about $1.6 billion.” 1974 Address at 76. Nixon chided Congress for not having acted on his proposals “to permit turning over to Indian Tribal governments the management and control of Indian programs, ” and “to provide greater local control over federally assisted reservation programs through a program of Tribal grants.” 1974 Address at 76. Nixon then closed his discussion of American Indian self-determination with a final promise to American Indians that had first taken embryonic form in his 1968 campaign speech in Omaha: “I shall ask that the Bureau of Indian Affairs make specific plans to accelerate the transfer of significant portions of its programs to Indian Tribal management, although I repeat my assurance that, while accelerated, these transfers will not be forced on Indian Tribes not willing to accept them.” 1974 Address at 76.

         Even as the long shadows of possible impeachment over Watergate began to darken the Oval Office in the spring of 1974, Nixon pressed forward with his efforts to pressure the Senate into passing the ISDA. Resurrecting his strategy of sending out surrogates with speeches that he first had tried with Vice President Agnew's Albuquerque speech in 1969, Nixon dispatched his special counsel and the executive assistant to his special counsel to Albuquerque, New Mexico in March, 1974, to deliver two more speeches advocating for the ISDA and American Indian self-determination. See Leonard Garment, Speech to Indian Law Students Association, Albuquerque, New Mexico (March 14, 1974)(available for scan or photocopy at the Nixon Presidential Library); Bradley H. ...


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