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INDIAN LAW & RESERVED WATER RIGHTS 

 

Mr. Shuck has represented the State of Wyoming and other clients in high profile cases and legal disputes involving numerous Indian Tribes, including the following:
  • CSKT/Flathead Reservation Water Compact.  Mr. Shuck represented an association of 100-150 agricultural producers -- both tribal members and non-tribal members -- in the Flathead River system in northwestern Montana who opposed the proposed CSKT Compact.  Over the course of nearly 2 years, Mr. Shuck obtained numerous Court Orders preventing the federal government’s and CSKT’s Compact from being approved by the State of Montana and provided testimony before the Montana Senate Natural Resources Committee and the House Judiciary Committee on the proposed Compact.
  • Big Horn River Adjudication.  As a member of the three-attorney team representing the State of Wyoming in the Big Horn River General Stream Adjudication, Mr. Shuck represented the State before the Special Master, the District Court, and the Wyoming Supreme Court.  Mr. Shuck also participated in settlement negotiations between the Shoshone and Arapaho Tribes, the State of Wyoming, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Justice.  The State of Wyoming was successful before the Wyoming Supreme Court in the Big Horn 6 case and were successful in negotiating a settlement of the litigation involving appurtenance of Walton rights held by tribal and non-tribal members' lands on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
  • Final Report on the Endangered Species Act and Indian Water Rights.  On behalf of nine Western States, Mr. Shuck acted as the primary draftsman in a joint effort to oppose the Final Report of the Working Group on the Endangered Species Act and Indian Water Rights.  The Working Group was created by Interior in 1997 and charged with recommending ways to implement the Endangered Species Act so as to benefit, or at least not act to the detriment of, Indian Tribes.
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  • Final Rules on Taking Lands into Trust for Tribes.  The Department of the Interior published final rules dramatically revising the rules on taking lands into trust for Indian tribes.  Mr. Shuck worked with the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) and a few other States to jointly oppose the final rules.  Over a two-year period, Mr. Shuck worked with other States and CWAG in drafting and editing several comment letters to Interior opposing the rules.  In 2002, the Attorney General’s Offices in more than twenty States had joined in this joint effort.  In 2003, consistent with the States’ requests, the Department of the Interior recommended the rules be withdrawn in whole or in part and on November 12, 2003, Interior published its decision to withdraw the rule in its entirety.
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  • Montana-Crow Tribe Compact Negotiations and the Yellowstone River Compact.  Mr. Shuck participated in a number of negotiating sessions between the State of Wyoming, the State of Montana, the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, and the Crow Tribe during the winter and spring of 1999.  Although the State of Wyoming was not a party to the proposed compact, Mr. Shuck attended those meetings as counsel to the Wyoming State Engineer.  The goal was to monitor those negotiations and assure Wyoming water users that any proposed settlement would not bargain away water allocated to Wyoming under the Yellowstone River Compact.  Those negotiating sessions eventually lead to a proposed water rights compact.
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  • Proposed Rules on Taking Lands into Trust for Tribes for Gaming Purposes.  Mr. Shuck has been involved in submitting comments related to proposed federal rules on taking lands into trust for Indian Tribes for the purpose of building gaming establishments.
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  • Other Negotiations Involving Federal and State Agencies.  Mr. Shuck has also been involved in negotiations involving the Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, the Regional Solicitor’s Office, irrigators, the mining industry, and other Western States.  Mr. Shuck has seen what works in these negotiations and what does not and has gained an understanding of the various concerns and relative positions of these agencies, tribes, stakeholders, and States with respect to various water, environmental, and tribal issues.

In addition to past representation of the State of Wyoming, Mr. Shuck has since represented private individuals and lenders with issues involving tribal matters.   Mr. Shuck has handled multiple cases in the Shoshone and Arapahoe Tribal Court and was a member of the Shoshone and Arapahoe Tribal Bar Association for over ten years.  The firm has represented lenders in actions to foreclose upon property, including foreclosures on homes located on the Wind River Indian Reservation.  Further, the firm has represented lenders in foreclosure and replevin actions against debtors who have defaulted on loans to purchase manufactured homes, trailers and automobiles.