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The Firm
The Firm was established in 2003 as a New Mexico Professional Corporation by Paul Frye. Greg Kelly came to the Firm in November 2012 from the Navajo Nation Department of Justice, where he had worked in the Natural Resources Unit. Lisa Enfield, who worked extensively with Paul Frye at the Nordhaus firm, and later at the Rothstein Donatelli firm (where both were partners), has been of counsel to the Firm since shortly after its inception. Tom Albright practiced law in New York City for over 25 years and also worked as an investment banker for Merrill Lynch before contracting as a Senior Law Clerk with the Firm. Paralegal and Office Manager Norma Keranen has been with the Firm since its inception. Through our own data-base and reporting services, we keep abreast of recently decided and pending federal cases that have implications for tribal sovereignty, economic self-sufficiency and self-determination, and for business success.

Experience With Federal Trust Obligations and Treaty Rights
The Firm has unique and extensive experience in protecting tribal sovereignty and in seeking compliance with the federal government's trust obligations to Indian Nations in federal courts nationwide and in tribal courts. The Firm's federal practice encompasses trial and appellate courts, including practice before the United States Supreme Court, the Federal Claims Court, the Federal Circuit, the D.C. Circuit, the Ninth Circuit and the Tenth Circuit. The Firm was lead counsel in Navajo Nation v. United States. This case was in litigation for 17 years and was twice argued before the United States Supreme Court, which twice reversed favorable rulings in a case involving surreptitious collusion between the Department of the Interior and Peabody Coal Company in the setting of royalty rates. The Firm has also defended for over a decade the EEOC's attack on Navajo preference employment provisions in federally-approved leases on tribal lands. The EEOC has appealed lower court rulings in EEOC v. Peabody Western Coal Co. and Navajo Nation upholding Navajo sovereignty or Navajo preference in employment to the Ninth Circuit on three separate occasions. Oral argument on the EEOC's third appeal was held in May 2014 and the Ninth Circuit affirmed the Navajo Nation's victory, 773 F. 3d 977 (9th Cir. 2014). Full citations to these cases can be found here. The Firm's litigation and negotiation practice also led to increased federal funding for a tribal census program, Navajo Tribe v. U.S. Dep't of Interior, 667 F.Supp. 747 (D.N.M. 1987), and a Court of Appeals ruling that the United States has trust duties not only to protect the tribal trust land base but also to protect tribal jurisdiction, HRI, Inc. v. EPA and Navajo Nation, 198 F.3d 1224 (10th Cir. 2000). In Navajo Nation v. United States Dep’t of the Interior, the Ninth Circuit reversed the District Court’s decision, agreeing with the Navajo Nation that the decision of the National Park Service to apply NAGPRA to remains removed from the Navajo Nation’s treaty lands without the Navajo Nation’s permission was final agency action under the Administrative Procedures Act, 819 F.3d 1084 (9th Cir. 2016). The reported cases of Paul Frye lists other cases involving trust duties of the United States. Mr. Frye is a frequent speaker at national Indian law conferences, and presented a paper, Indian Tribal Self-Determination and the Performance of Federal Trust Duties, at the 25th Annual Indian Law Conference of the Federal Bar Association.

Business Development in Indian Country
The Frye Law Firm has been active in business development in Indian country and in representing tribal corporations and LLCs under tribal, state and federal laws. Our representation of these businesses involves significant work in drafting, negotiating and finalizing contracts and defending our business clients against tort claims. We have assisted clients in seeking and obtaining lines of credit, credit facilities, loan agreements and other commercial banking instruments, and have worked with our clients in investment strategies and financial risk management.

The Firm has provided effective legal advice in employment-related matters to its clients that do business in Indian country. We have drafted numerous employment contracts for our clients, and have an intimate knowledge of employment laws generally. The Firm's practice involves significant litigation concerning the rights and duties of employees and employers in Indian country.

Land and Minerals
Frye Law's principal, Paul Frye, has concentrated in land status and land classification issues for the Navajo Nation and Navajo allottees. This concentration has resulted in hard-won and significant victories for the Navajo people, including a class action settlement where a class of several thousand Navajo allotment owners obtained rights to coal, oil and gas, and other minerals underlying the surface of approximately 700 square miles of the mineral-rich San Juan Basin, see Mescal v. United States, 161 F.R.D. 450 (D.N.M. 1995) (sanctioning the United States Department of Justice for intentionally obstructing justice in that case); in United States v. Tsosie, 92 F.3d 1037 (10th Cir. 1996), the United States' attempt to dispossess a Navajo woman from disputed land was rebuffed. And, the HRI case noted above established that off-reservation tribal trust land is the equivalent of reservation land for purposes of federal environmental laws. In a 2016 decision, the Tenth Circuit agreed with the Firm’s client, a tribally owned energy company, that the District Court’s opinions and orders in favor of environmental plaintiffs should all be vacated and the case dismissed, Diné CARE v. United States Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, 643 Fed. Appx. 799 (10th Cir. 2016). Other litigation involving land status and jurisdiction resulted in significant tax revenues for the Navajo Nation, in the Pittsburg & Midway and Texaco decisions noted in Mr. Frye's reported cases;.

The long-term relationships of the Firm and its clients underscore the commitment of all members of the Firm in representing Native Nations, tribal economic enterprises, and individual Native Americans.
10400 Academy Rd. N.E., Suite 310, Albuquerque, NM 87111Ph (505) 296-9400 • Fax (505) 296-9401

 



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