Supreme Court ruling bodes well for tribes in gaming cases

A view of the U.S. Supreme Court. File Photo © Indianz.Com

The U.S. Supreme Court hasn't been kind to tribes but one recent ruling is having positive effects throughout Indian Country.

In May, the justices reaffirmed that tribes can't be sued without their consent or without a waiver from Congress. More specifically, they held that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act can't be used against tribes for activities that do not occur on "Indian lands."

The ruling in Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community protected the Bay Mills Indian Community from being sued over a casino that was operating on land that hasn't been placed in trust or restricted status. It also helped the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians -- the state of Michigan was forced to drop its Supreme Court case against the tribe after losing the Bay Mills one.

Artist's rendering of the proposed Red Clay Casino in Broken Arrrow, Oklahoma. Image from Red Clay Casino

Beyond Michigan, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals applied the decision in a dispute between the state of Oklahoma and the Kialegee Tribal Town. The activity at issue -- the proposed Red Clay Casino -- was not on "Indian lands" so the court ruled that the tribe can't be sued under IGRA.

But there was a bonus -- the 10th Circuit held that individual tribal officials can't be sued either because the Class III gaming compact requires disputes to go to arbitration. The ruling could impact other matters in the state -- just last month, Citizen Potawatomi Nation Chairman John "Rocky" Barrett warned that tribal leaders were under "open attack" and were facing lawsuits in taxation disputes.

Elsewhere, the Bay Mills decision might spell defeat for the state of Alabama in its campaign against the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. The activity in that dispute does take place on "Indian lands" but the tribe only offers Class II gaming and IGRA does not authorize state involvement in Class II gaming.

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the Kialegee case, Oklahoma v. Hobia.

Get the Story:
10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturns decision to halt proposed casino plans in Broken Arrow (KJRH 11/10)
Appeals Court Rules In Favor Of Kialegees' Broken Arrow Casino (News on 6 11/10)
Proposed Broken Arrow casino could go through (FOX 23 News 11/10)
Court of Appeals sides with Kialegee tribe in BA casino controversy (The Broken Arrow Ledger 11/11)
Court overturns order halting Broken Arrow casino (The Tulsa World 11/11)

10th Circuit Decision:
Oklahoma v. Hobia (November 10, 2014)

Supreme Court Decision:
Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community (May 27, 2014)

Related Stories
10th Circuit rules for Kialegee Tribal Town in casino dispute (11/10)

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