Business in Indian Country

Doing business in Indian Country requires an understanding of the complex interplay between issues of sovereignty and jurisdiction in addition to the issues facing all businesses. Sutin, Thayer & Browne offers the advantages of a full-service firm to assist tribes and pueblos, tribal entities, and companies doing business in Indian country. We offer a vast commercial law experience combined with an in-depth knowledge of tribal laws and federal Indian law. This combination of experience and skills often lacking in a general Indian law practice gives our tribal clients a competitive advantage and provides tribal clients the tools to expand their economic development, negotiate complex deals and excel in complex litigation. Our lawyers are licensed to practice in the state courts of New Mexico, California, Colorado, Texas, the federal courts of the District of New Mexico and the Fifth, Ninth and Tenth Circuits, and the tribal courts of Acoma Pueblo, Hopi Tribe, Isleta Pueblo, Jicarilla Apache Tribe, Laguna Pueblo, Navajo Nation, Santa Clara Pueblo, Southern Ute Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Ysleta del Sur Tribe and Zuni Pueblo.

  • We represent a number of Indian-owned businesses. Our work for these businesses includes providing advice regarding the structure of the joint venture, qualification for Indian preference and minority-owned business programs, and the federal acquisition regulations applicable to Bureau of Indian Affairs contracts with Indian-owned businesses.
  • We have long represented a large pueblo in its economic development enterprises and on utility issues.
  • We represent a tribal entity in New Mexico in a large commercial transaction to produce and sell agricultural products using tribal water.
  • We regularly review commercial contracts for one of the Middle Rio Grande pueblos and have represented that pueblo in a commercial loan transaction.
  • We have provided Futures for Children, a non-profit organization promoting Indian education among tribes in Arizona and New Mexico, with pro bono services for more than a decade.
  • We represent various individuals and commercial entities in disputes with tribes and tribal members, including disputes involving ownership of a sawmill moved to tribal land, claims by the terminated employee of a tribal school, and claims of negligent appraisal in a multimillion-dollar tribal real estate development.
  • We assist with federally protected water rights on pueblo grant lands and reservations. For more than 20 years, we represented the Pueblo of Pojoaque in State of New Mexico v. Aamodt, et al. The Aamodt case was brought by the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer more than 30 years ago in United States District Court to adjudicate the rights to surface water and groundwater of approximately 2,000 water users in the watersheds of the Pojoaque and Tesuque rivers north of Santa Fe. Our representation in this complicated case has involved several trials of water rights issues held before Special Masters appointed by the federal court.
  • We successfully represented an Indian casino consultant and management company from Las Vegas, Nevada, in a highly publicized appeal of a tribal gaming license revocation. Based on the successful appeal, the firm now represents the executive and consultant in a federal lawsuit against various tribal officials, including the pueblo’s governor, for tortious interference with contracts.
  • We defended the state of New Mexico in a case by the Navajo Nation asserting ownership of approximately 2 million acres of land in northwest New Mexico.