Recent Decisions In a Tribal Lawsuit That Have Attorneys Worried Over Indian Land Use and Zoning Issues

Bryan Newland recently wrote an article on Turtle Talk about a case that is under the California Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, hereinafter IGRA. It is a suit seeking to require negotiations for a class II gaming activity on Indian lands controlled by the Big Lagoon Ranchereia, an Indian Tribe. The decision against the Tribe and in favor of the State is what has intrigued us.

Newland suggests that the decision places a heavy preliminary burden on the Tribe to prove that the specific lands planned for a gaming site are Indian lands within the meaning of the IGRA. The Tribe, on the advice of its Coachella Valley Native American trust lawyers, according to Newland, finds the decision overreaches any reasonable interpretation of the facts and law including particularly that the State had failed to raise a timely objection over an 18 year period to challenge the status of the lands.

The advice and commentary of a Coachella Valley tribal attorney active in the negotiations prior to the legal action characterizes the impact of the decision on the instant case as devastating. According to Newland, the decision holds that the Tribe cannot compel the State of California to negotiate its gaming rights claim.

The outcome that Newland lists from the decision is interesting and shocking at the same time. You can read the full article here.

There are substantial legal issues for appeal and it is anticipated that the tribe and its Coachella Valley land use and zoning attorney will seize upon the elements of the 9th Circuit Opinion, which invite legal challenge.