News

United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians wins appeal in 10th Circuit

Court rules in firm client's favor In housing fund dispute

June 9, 2009

The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians of Oklahoma, a client of McAfee & Taft, won a key victory in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in its dispute with the Department of Housing and Urban Development over housing funding, as reported in local and online media. The tribe was represented by McAfee & Taft trial attorneys James McMillin and Michael McClintock.

According to Indianz.com, from 1997 through 2005, the tribe received funding for housing under the Native American Assistance and Self-Determination Act, but their Indian Housing Block Grant was drastically reduced after a complaint from the Cherokee Nation.

“The Cherokee Nation claimed it was the only entity eligible to receive IHBG funding within its Tribal Jurisdictional Statistical Area. HUD agreed, saying the United Keetoowah Band lacked ‘court jurisdiction’ over the affected area and didn’t have an agreement with the Cherokee Nation,” the article reported.

A lower court upheld’s HUD’s decision to reduce the UKB tribe’s funding. However, the 10th Circuit reversed the lower court’s decision, ruling that “the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s formula to give funds to tribes under the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act did not consider a tribe’s need, as stated in the law,” according to the Tulsa World.

Keetoowah Chief George Wickliffe said, “We are delighted that the court reached a decision that will benefit all landless tribes throughout the United States,” the Tulsa World reported.