Natural Resources

Robins Kaplan partner Tim Purdon has unique experience when it comes to Indian Country and natural resources. Tim was the United States Attorney in North Dakota at the beginning of the Bakken oil boom and saw first-hand the risks to the environment, the water supply, the American Indian people, and to the Native way of life when reservation land becomes a target for the energy extraction industry. The increase in crime due to exploding non-Native population growth, the improper dumping of oil field waste, and the arrival of fraudsters looking to take advantage of the local reservation population were all unwanted byproducts of the oil boom in Indian Country. Tim fought back for the Tribes during this time, breaking up a 60-member heroin trafficking ring in Operation Winter’s End, helping secure additional law enforcement resources, and prosecuting environmental crime cases. This experience allows Tim and South Dakota’s former United States Attorney, Brendan Johnson, to offer proactive strategic advice to Tribes facing the “gold rush” mentality that can accompany an energy extraction boom on Tribal lands and powerful advocacy when Tribes are forced to litigate against the energy extraction industry.

Selected Case Results*

  • Chairman David Archambault II and Councilman Dana Yellow Fat, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe:  In the fall of 2016, Tribal opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) resulted in widespread protests against DAPL that drove the issue on to the national stage. In connection with the protests against the DAPL, Robins Kaplan was retained by Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault and Councilman Dana Yellow Fat to represent them after they were sued in federal court by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP).  ETP obtained a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) preventing Chairman Archambault from “illegally” protesting DAPL. Robins Kaplan was successful in getting the TRO dissolved and the lawsuit against Chairman Dave Archambault and Councilman Dana Yellow Fat dismissed.

* Past results are reported to provide the reader with an indication of the type of litigation we practice. They do not and should not be construed to create an expectation of result in any other case, as all cases are dependent upon their own unique fact situation and applicable law.


Brendan V. Johnson


Member of Executive Board
Chair, National Business Litigation Group
Co-Chair, Government and Internal Investigations Group

Timothy Q. Purdon


Chair, American Indian Law and Policy Group;
Co-Chair, Government and Internal Investigations Group

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