Who Will Control the Future of Indian Gaming? 'A Few Pages of History are Worth a Volume of Logic'

42 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2009

Date Written: 1996


This Article attempts to place the current controversy concerning reservation gaming into perspective by viewing it not solely as a 1990s battle over casinos in Indian Country, but as the latest round in a much longer and larger struggle among the federal, state and tribal governments over the States’ role in governing Native American groups within state borders.

The Article argues that federal-state relations on non-Indian issues often shape federal Indian policy more than a thoughtful consideration of the proper balance between state economic and tribal autonomy issues. What may begin as a dispute about tribal-state relations on a particular matter, often becomes part of a larger ongoing debate between the federal and state governments, with the larger debate dictating the outcome of the particular tribal-state controversy.

Part II of this Article provides examples of the recurrence of this pattern over the past 300 years and the varying influences of different aspects of the pattern. Part III then illustrates that the reservation gaming controversy has followed the first steps of the pattern, and analyzes both the course the controversy will follow and the key factors that will determine its outcome if the pattern continues to apply.

Keywords: Indian gaming, Native American law, gambling, jurisdiction, tribal-state relations, legal history

Suggested Citation

Worthen, Kevin J., Who Will Control the Future of Indian Gaming? 'A Few Pages of History are Worth a Volume of Logic' (1996). Brigham Young University Law Review, pp. 407-448, 1996, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1462858

Kevin J. Worthen (Contact Author)

BYU Law School ( email )

D-364 ASB
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602

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