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Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez dismissed a counter lawsuit May 20 filed by Cesar Caballero against the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians that challenged the tribe’s federally recognized status.

“We are very proud of our heritage and community. This ruling reaffirms our rights and further supports our sovereign governmental authority,” said Nick Fonseca, tribal chairman.

In Caballero’s failed counter suit, the court rejected consideration of his claim that the tribe wrongfully acquired federal recognition and owes him money damages. Caballero claims to descend from the members of the El Dorado Rancheria Miwok, a tribe the United States terminated pursuant to its policy in the 1950s.

Mendez dismissed the counter lawsuit on seven grounds. In addition to other bases justifying dismissal, he concluded the federally recognized Shingle Springs tribe has sovereign immunity and may not be sued. He also concluded the federally recognized Indian tribe could not be foreclosed from using its own name, as Caballero sought to accomplish.

Legal action is pending regarding the tribe’s initial complaint to protect its name from misappropriation by Caballero. The tribe filed an action in December 2008 in response to Caballero’s filing of a fictitious business statement under the name “Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians.”