Tribal Sovereignty: Court Rulings

Indian tribes are ‘domestic dependent nations’ that exercise inherent sovereign authority over their members and territories. Link to Court Decision

Oklahoma Tax Comm’n v. Pottawatomi Tribe, 498 U.S. 505, 509 (1991)

An Indian tribe is subject to suit only where Congress has authorized the suit or the tribe has waived its immunity. Link to Court Decision

Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma v. Manufacturing Technologies, Inc., 523 U.S. 751, 754 (1998)

The doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity is not limited to government-related activity occurring on tribal lands, but also protects the tribe’s off-reservation, for-profit commercial conduct. Link to Court Decision

Ameriloan v. Superior Court, 169 Cal.App.4th 81, 89 (2008), quoting Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma v. Manufacturing Technologies, Inc., 523 U.S. 751, 760 (1998)

The Federal policies intended to promote Indian tribal autonomy are furthered by extension of immunity to the business entities. Link to Court Decision

Allen v. Gold Country Casino, 464 F.3d 1044, 1046 (9th Cir. 2006) (setting forth factors for determining whether a business operates as an “arm of the tribe”), relied upon in Ameriloan v. Superior Court, 169 Cal.App.4th 81, 89 (2008)

An immunity defense is effectively lost if an immune party is forced to stand trial or face the other burdens of litigation. Link to Court Decision

Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians v. Superior Court, 133 Cal.App.4th 1185, 1189 (2005)

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