Tulalip Tribes v. State of Washington

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Indian Law
  • Date Filed: 04-17-2015
  • Case #: 13-35464
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge McKeown for the Court; Circuit Judges Tallman and Owens
  • Full Text Opinion

The “most-favored tribe clause” in the Tulalip Compact does not require the State of Washington to enact an amendment if the amendment does not reflect the same limitations of the terms that the State of Washington has agreed to with another tribe.

Tulalip Tribes of Washington (“Tulalip”) filed suit against the State of Washington (the “State”) for breach of a tribal-state gaming compact (the “Tulalip Compact”). Tulalip sought an injunction to compel the State to comply with the Tulalip Compact. Tulalip alleged that the State violated the “most-favored tribe clause” of the Tulalip Compact, which entitles Tulalip to the same favorable terms regarding the allocation of gaming terminals as other tribes, as accepted by the State. Tulalip claimed that the State breached the clause by rejecting Tulalip’s proposed amendment to the Tulalip Compact, which would allow Tulalip to use an Inter-Tribal Fund, as used by the Spokane Tribe, to increase its allocation of gambling terminals. Tulalip argued that because the Spokane Tribe was given the Inter-Tribal Fund mechanism as an alternative method of acquiring additional allocations, such a term was a more favorable term. The district court granted summary judgment to the State, concluding that Tulalip’s argument failed on its merits, and Tulalip appealed. The Ninth Circuit held that Tulalip’s proposed amendment failed to impose the same limitations as the terms that the State agreed to with the Spokane Tribe. Tulalip’s amendment was therefore not a reflection of more favorable terms, and the State was not required to accept the amendment. AFFIRMED.

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