Bay Mills Musings

My criticisms of the entire Bay Mills situation is mentioned in today in an article titled, "Supreme Problem: One Tribe Pressured to Waive Sovereignty for Good of the Whole." Here are a few musings about this unfortunate predicament: Bay Mills now poses a choice of the lesser of two evils for all of Indian Country. The first evil is federal enforcement authority, specifically the power of the NIGC to regulate Indian gaming beyond Indian lands. The second evil is states' rights, particularly the state right to remedy unlawful Indian gaming.

With Indian Country's political elite in the Beltway not being earnest or forthright about the matter at hand, that fateful choice will now be made for us by the notoriously anti-tribal and pro-state Supreme Court. There is no question that the Justices will assault tribal sovereignty and immunity, in favor of enforceable states' rights in Indian Country.

The court will somehow violently upset the delicate balance of state and tribal sovereignty that was set in 1990s when state and tribal sovereign immunity were affirmed in the Seminole and Citizen Band of Potawatomi decisions. The balance of power under IGRA that results from those decisions, will be tilted sharply towards states.

The court will almost certainly craft a ruling that usher states into Indian casinos and all of Indian gaming, if not all of Indian Country a la Nevada v. Hicks. Justice Scalia in particular, who openly disdains gaming and adores states rights, could use the atrocious facts of Bay Mills to finally sound the death knell for tribal sovereign immunity.

Indian Country should be afraid--very, very afraid.

Gabriel "Gabe" Galanda is a partner at Galanda Broadman PLLC, of Seattle, an American Indian owned law firm. He is an enrolled member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes of Covelo, California. Gabe can be reached at 206.300.7801 or