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Lawsuit over Lake Quinault ownership dismissed by Federal Court

A lawsuit has been dismissed that contends the ownership of Lake Quinault by the Quinault Indian Nation

The Quinault Indian Nation issued a release saying that the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit that sought to revoke ownership of Lake Quinault from the Quinault Indian Nation, affirming a dismissal from the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

This recent lawsuit followed a July 2019 dismissal by the Court of Federal Claims that had affirmed two prior court decisions rejecting the claim that the Quinault Nation has no jurisdiction over the lake.

The original lawsuit, filed by Lake Quinault resident Thomas Landreth, alleged that “for more than a decade, the Quinault Indian Tribe has increasingly asserted jurisdiction and control over this navigable waterway, forcing out the public and non-tribal property owners,” and that since April 2013, the Tribe has “restricted all uses of the lake for non-tribal members.”

In an opinion on the decision, the court states that “Landreth’s complaint fails to mention the Takings Clause or the Fifth Amendment at all. Further, every act described in the complaint is alleged to have been committed by the Tribe, not by the United States, and the complaint fails to allege facts sufficient to establish responsibility of the United States for acts taken by the Tribe. “

Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp said in the release,“The court’s decision should mark the end of this misguided challenge to the Nation’s ownership of Lake Quinault and once again affirms our exclusive and sovereign right to manage the land and waters of our reservation”.

This lawsuit is the latest in a series of court challenges to the Quinault Nation’s ownership of the lake.


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