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Case Summary Citation

United States v. Osage Wind, LLC, 871 F.3d 1078 (10th Cir. 2017)

Abstract

The Osage Nation, as owner of the beneficial interest in its mineral estate, issues federally-approved leases to persons and entities who wish to conduct mineral development on its lands. After an energy-development company, Osage Wind, leased privately-owned surface lands within Tribal reservation boundaries and began to excavate minerals for purposes of constructing a wind farm, the United States brought suit on the Tribe’s behalf. In the ensuing litigation, the Osage Nation insisted that Osage Wind should have obtained a mineral lease from the Tribe before beginning its work. In its decision, the Tenth Circuit applied one of the Indian law canons of construction and concluded that the digging, crushing, and sorting of minerals by Osage Wind amounted to “mineral development” under the definition of “mining,” and therefore required a mineral lease issued by the Osage Mineral Council.

 

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