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Hornell Brewing Co. v. Rosebud Sioux Tribal Court, 133 F.3d 1087, 45 U.S.P.Q.2d (BNA) 1458 (8th Cir. 1998) (full-text).

Factual Background[]

Chief Crazy Horse was a Native American Sioux. He died in 1877, but during his life he was opposed to the use of alcohol by members of his tribe. Hornell Brewing Co. distributes an alcoholic beverage called “The Original Crazy Horse Malt Liquor.”

Trial Court Proceedings[]

The Crazy Horse estate sued Hornell in Rosebud Sioux Tribal Court in South Dakota for defamation, violation of the right of publicity, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress and violation of the Lanham Act and the Indian Arts And Craft Act.

The issue was whether the tribal court had jurisdiction to hear the case. The defendant conducted no activities in South Dakota at all. Its only tenuous connection with the Sioux reservation what that it maintained a website that could be accessed from computers on the reservation.

The supreme court of the tribal court system had found jurisdiction because the defendants' conduct affected the health and welfare of the tribe, and the tribe should be able to adjudicate the harm suffered by its members.

Appellate Court Proceedings[]

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeal held that advertising outside the reservation and on the Internet did not directly affecting the health and welfare of the tribe, did not constitute non-Indian use of Indian land, and therefore, did not fall within the tribe's inherent sovereign authority.