The Legacy of Bryan v. Itasca County: How a $147 County Tax Notice Helped Bring Tribes $200 Billion in Indian Gaming Revenue
Kevin K. Washburn
University of New Mexico - School of Law
Minnesota Law Review, Forthcoming
Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 07-14
Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-37
The Supreme Court's landmark 1976 decision in Bryan v. Itasca County is known within Indian law academia for the story that Professors Phil Frickey and Bill Eskridge tell about the case: it reflects a dynamic and pragmatic interpretation of a termination-era statute to limit Congressional termination's harmful legacy during a more enlightened era of tribal self-determination. What is less well-appreciated about the case is that it provided the legal bedrock on which the Indian gaming industry was built. This article explores the genesis of the litigation and traces its path, describing how it came to produce a unanimous Supreme Court opinion of surprising breadth. It also demonstrates that the right to engage in gaming, which ultimately has produced vast tribal economic development and even riches for some tribes, had its roots as much in Indian poverty as in Indian sovereignty.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 52
Keywords: Indian gaming, Cabazon Band, Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, Indian law, Public Law 280
JEL Classification: K10, K34, K41, L83Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: August 31, 2007 ; Last revised: July 6, 2010
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