Attorney Bio

Tribal Law. Tribal Solutions.



Louisville, CO
P: 303.673.9600
F: 303.673.9155

Mr. Rasmussen joined the firm as a partner in 2011.

Primary areas of practice are tribal and federal court litigation and appeals, tribal sovereignty and self-determination, taxation, environmental and cultural preservation, and general tribal representation.

Current cases include multiple cases on federal violations of treaties and trust responsibilities, tribal leasing and regulatory authority over pipelines and other on-Reservation construction, tribal court pre-exhaustion and post-exhaustion jurisdiction, breach of contract, torts, and environmental laws (including Bears Ears National Monument and grizzly bear delisting).

Washington State; U.S. Supreme Court; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, District of Columbia, and Federal Circuits; District of North Dakota; and numerous tribal courts. (Not Licensed in the State of Colorado).

University of Washington (J.D., 1991); Grinnell College (B.A., 1983).

Mr. Rasmussen has practiced solely on behalf of tribes and tribal members since 1993. His current practice is primarily in appeals and complex or high-stakes litigation in support of tribal sovereign authority to legislate, adjudicate, regulate, and tax; and in complex business litigation. This includes hundreds of appellate and trial court matters, covering virtually all types of cases which impact tribes, including: jurisdictional disputes, diminishment and disestablishment, environmental regulations, federal/tribal consultation,federal trust duties, tribal construction and finance, NAHASDA, NAGPRA, IGRA, ICWA, NHPA, NEPA, intellectual property, interpretation of tribal law; bankruptcy, criminal cases, and tort defense.

He has provided instruction on tribal jurisdiction and other issues at multiple continuing legal education classes and at the National Tribal Judicial College.

While his practice is now almost exclusively litigation, he has numerous years of experience providing general representation to tribes; tribal housing authorities; tribal school boards; and other tribal commissions, departments, and tribal businesses. This included work creating and representing tribal courts, tribal gaming commissions, tribal gaming organizations, tribal departments and tribal law corporations. It also includes gaming compacting with states, other agreements with states, 638 contracting, and virtually all other areas of general tribal representation.


United States v. Osage Wind, LLC, 871 F.3d 1078 (10th Cir. 2017), call for view of the Solicitor General, 138 S.Ct. 2017 (2018), cert. denied 139 S.Ct. 784 (2019).

Represented the tribal entity in the Tenth Circuit, before the Solicitor General, and in the Supreme Court. The tribal entity did not own the surface rights to land, but owned all the mineral rights. The United States, as tribal trustee, brought the federal court suit to determine whether a windfarm needed a lease from the tribal entity. The district court held that the windfarm only needed a lease from the surface owner, and the United States decided not to appeal from that adverse decision.

The tribal entity intervened to appeal, and prevailed on appeal. The Tenth Circuit held that the windfarm was required to obtain a lease from the tribal entity. It also held that the tribal entity could intervene and appeal even though the United States, as the tribal entity's trustee, had decided not to appeal. The windfarm sought a writ of certiorari on both holdings, but the Supreme Court denied certiorari.
Harvey v. Ute Indian Tribe, call for view of the Solicitor General, 138 S.Ct. 2696 (2018), cert. denied 139 S.Ct. 784 (2019).

Represented the Tribe in the certiorari stage and before the Solicitor General. After a divided Utah Supreme Court agreed with the Tribe's argument that the non-Indian plaintiff had to exhaust tribal court remedies, the non-Indian requested that the United States grant a writ of certiorari.
Norton v. Ute Indian Tribe, 862 F.3d 1236 (10th Cir. 2017), cert. denied 138 S.Ct. 1001 (2018).

Represented the Tribe in tribal and federal court proceedings. The Tribe filed a tribal court suit alleging that state and county police officers were acting outside the scope of their authority when they trespassed on tribal land, resulting in the death of a tribal member. The non-Indian defendants filed suit in the federal court, asserting that they were not required to exhaust tribal court remedies. The federal district court enjoined the tribal court proceeding, but the Tenth Circuit reversed. The Tenth Circuit distinguished the case from Nevada v. Hicks, 533 U.S. 353 (2001) and held that the non-Indians had to exhaust tribal court remedies. The United States Supreme Court denied the petition for a writ of certiorari.
Becker v Ute Indian Tribe, 868 F.3d 1199 (10th Cir. 2017).

Represented the Tribe on appeal. The Tenth Circuit reversed a district court order which had enjoined a tribal court suit against a non-Indian contractor.
Jones v. United States, 846 F.3d 1343 (Fed. Cir. 2017).

Represented the Tribe on appeal. The estate of a tribal member brought a treaty-based claim for wrongful death against the United States. The Court of Federal Claims dismissed the suit, and the estate appealed. The Federal Circuit reversed and remanded the case. In doing so, it agreed with the estate's argument on appeal that under "bad men" clauses which are contained in many tribal treaties, the United States is liable for harm to individual Indians caused by "bad men among the whites." The Federal Circuit also agreed with the estate's argument on a complex claims preclusion argument.
Ute Indian Tribe v. Myton, 835 F.3d 1255 (10th Cir. 2016), cert. denied, 137 S.Ct. 2328 (2017).
Ute Indian Tribe v. Utah, 790 F.3d 1000 (10th Cir. 2015), cert. denied 136 S.Ct. 1451 (2016).

Represented the Tribe in all federal court proceedings. In two appeals in a suit initially filed in 1975, the Tenth Circuit, then-Judge Gorsuch writing for the Court in both appeals, agreed with the Tribe on all major issues in the appeal. The Tenth Circuit vacated the District Court orders and remanded for entry of injunctive relief in favor of the Tribe.
Attorney's Process and Investigation Services, Inc. v. Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, 609 F.3d 927 (8th Cir. 2010), cert. denied 562 S.Ct.1179 (2011).

Represented the Tribe in tribal and federal court proceedings. The district court held, and the circuit court affirmed, that the Tribe's court had jurisdiction over non-Indians under the second Montana exception.
In re N.V., 744 N.W. 2d 634 (Iowa 2008).

Represented the Tribe on appeal. The Iowa Supreme Court affirmed an order transferring an off-Reservation matter to tribal court under the "Iowa ICWA."
Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa Election Bd. V. Bureau of Indian Affairs, 439 F.3d 832 (8th Cir. 2006).

Represented the Tribe in all federal court proceedings. The Tribe prevailed in the district court and on appeal, in a suit raising complex tribal election and tribal governance issues.
Prescott v. Little Six, Inc., 387 F.3d 753 (8th Cir. 2004), cert. denied, 544 U.S. 1032 (2005).

Represented the tribal entity in tribal and federal court proceedings. The federal circuit court reversed the district court and reinstated a tribal court decision in favor of the tribal entity. The circuit court held that even though ERISA completely preempts non-federal law, the Tribe's court had jurisdiction to determine the existence of an ERISA plan, and further held that the tribal court?s determination was dispositive.
Confederated Tribes v. Wiley, 2 CCAR 60 (1995).

As the lead public defender for the Tribe, prevailed on behalf of Wiley and numerous similarly situated tribal court defendants. The Tribe's appellate court held that the Tribe's adoption of state criminal statutes was an unlawful delegation of tribal sovereign legislative authority to the state.
Wyoming v. United States, 136 F. Supp. 3d 1317 (D. Wyo. 2015).

Represented a tribe in a case with numerous parties. The Court granted the tribe?s motion to enjoin federal regulation because, inter alia, the United States had not adequately consulted with the tribe
Maney v. Ho-Chunk Nation Election Board, 11 Am Tribal Law 212 (Ho-Chunk, 2013)

Represented a tribal election board, which prevailed in an election appeal.

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