This two-credit course will explore fundamental legal principles governing economic development in Indian country.
Indian tribes are governments. They engage in economic development to generate governmental revenues to support the governmental services they provide to their citizenries. Because many tribes lack tax bases, tribes own and operate business enterprises, including gaming enterprises, to generate these revenues. This course explores the law of tribal economic development in three basic parts: (1) Tribes as Economic Regulators, (2) Tribes as Economic Actors, and (3) Tribal Gaming.
Part I will exam the fundamental principles of federal Indian law that ground the regulatory authority that Indian tribes exercise over economic development within their territories. This authority includes the power to govern labor and employment relations, license corporations under tribal law, regulate the exploitation of natural resources, and general regulation of economic activity within Indian country. A central focus will be on the law governing tribal powers over non-tribal citizens and corporations who enter Indian country for economic gain.
Part II will exam the law governing tribes as economic actors. What tribal entities have sovereign immunity from suit? Do state or federal courts have jurisdiction over contract actions against these entities arising in Indian country? Do tribal courts have jurisdiction over such actions? What law governs such actions? These are matters of practical importance for banks and other institutions dealing with Indian tribes engaged in economic development.
Part III will cover the basic law of Indian gaming. We will start with a review of the Supreme Court's 1987 landmark decision in California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, establishing, in essence, that Indian tribes have inherent authority to generate governmental revenues through gaming within their jurisdictional territories, and that states generally lack authority to regulate that activity. In the wake of Cabazon, Congress enacted the sweeping Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) to preempt the field and give states a measure of regulatory authority over casino-style gaming within Indian country by requiring tribes and states to enter into compacts to regulate such gaming. This part of the course will review that history and the essential aspects of IGRA.
Students will read the case law that undergirds the subject matter of each part. They will also read the IGRA and related regulatory materials covering the key aspects of Indian gaming.
Students will be graded on the basis of a mid-term take home exam, a final take home exam or paper, and class participation.
For details on class times, days of the week, instructors, and grading and exam details, please view the Michigan Law Class Schedule.