Citizens Against Casino Gambling in Erie Cnty. v. Chaudhuri, No. 11-5171 (2d Cir. 2015)

Annotate this Case
Justia Opinion Summary

Plaintiffs filed suit against the Gaming Commission and others, alleging that the Commission did not act in accordance with federal law in approving an ordinance and subsequent amendments to that ordinance that permitted the Seneca Nation to operate a class III gaming facility - a casino - on land owned by the Seneca Nation in Buffalo. The court held that the district court correctly dismissed plaintiffs’ complaint in CACGEC III because the DOI and the NIGC’s determination that the Buffalo Parcel is eligible for class III gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), 25 U.S.C. 2701–2721, was not arbitrary or capricious, an abuse of discretion, or in violation of law; Congress intended the Buffalo Parcel to be subject to tribal jurisdiction, as required for the land to be eligible for gaming under IGRA; and IGRA Section 20’s prohibition of gaming on trust lands acquired after IGRA’s enactment in 1988, 25 U.S.C. 2719(a), does not apply to the Buffalo Parcel. Because the gaming ordinances at issue in the first two lawsuits (CACGEC I and CACGEC II) have been superseded by the most recent amended ordinance, the appeals of CACGEC I and CACGEC II are moot. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court in CACGEC III and dismissed the appeals of CACGEC I and CACGEC II.

Download PDF
11 5171(L) Citizens Against Casino Gambling in Erie Cty. v. Chaudhuri 1 In the 2 United States Court of Appeals 3 For the Second Circuit 4 5 6 August Term, 2014 Nos. 11 5171, 11 5466, 13 2339, 13 2777 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 CITIZENS AGAINST CASINO GAMBLING IN ERIE COUNTY, JOEL ROSE and ROBERT HEFFERN, as Co Chairpersons; D. MIN. G. STANFORD BRATTON, Reverend, Executive Director of the Network of Religious Communities; NETWORK OF RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES; NATIONAL COALITION AGAINST GAMBLING EXPANSION; PRESERVATION COALITION OF ERIE COUNTY, INCORPORATED; COALITION AGAINST GAMBLING IN NEW YORK ACTION, INCORPORATED; CAMPAIGN FOR BUFFALO HISTORY ARCHITECTURE & CULTURE; SAM HOYT, Assemblyman; MARIA WHYTE; JOHN MCKENDRY; SHELLEY MCKENDRY; DOMINIC J. CARBONE; GEOFFREY D. BUTLER; ELIZABETH F. BARRETT; JULIE CLEARY; ERIN C. DAVISON; ALICE E. PATTON; MAUREEN C. SCHAEFFER; JOEL A. GIAMBRA, Individually and as Erie County Executive; KEITH H. SCOTT, SR., Pastor; DORA RICHARDSON; and JOSEPHINE RUSH, Plaintiffs Appellants Cross Appellees, 22 v. 23 24 25 26 27 JONODEV OSCEOLA CHAUDHURI, in his official capacity as Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission; THE NATIONAL INDIAN GAMING COMMISSION; SALLY JEWELL, in her official capacity as Secretary of the Interior; and THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, 1 2 Defendants Appellees Cross Appellants. 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of New York. Nos. 06 cv 001, 07 cv 451, 09 cv 291 William M. Skretny, Judge. ARGUED: JANUARY 16, 2015 DECIDED: SEPTEMBER 15, 2015 Before: KATZMANN, Chief Judge, LOHIER and DRONEY, Circuit Judges. The plaintiffs, organizations and individuals who oppose the operation of a casino on land owned by the Seneca Nation of Indians in Buffalo, New York, filed an action in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York against the National Indian Gaming Commission, its Chairman, the Department of the Interior, and the Secretary of the Interior, arguing that the National Indian Gaming Commission acted arbitrarily and capriciously and abused its discretion in approving an ordinance that permitted the Seneca Nation to operate a class III gaming facility in Buffalo. The district court (Skretny, J.) dismissed the action, and the plaintiffs appealed. We hold that the Seneca Nation’s lands in Buffalo are gaming eligible under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (“IGRA”), The Clerk of the Court is directed to amend the official caption to conform to the above. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 43(c)(2), Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri, the present Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission, and Sally Jewell, the present Secretary of the Interior, are automatically substituted as defendants herein for their respective predecessors. 2 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 25 U.S.C. §§ 2701–2721, as “Indian lands” under the Seneca Nation’s jurisdiction and that IGRA Section 20’s prohibition of gaming on trust lands acquired after IGRA’s enactment, 25 U.S.C. § 2719(a), does not apply. Accordingly, we AFFIRM. CORNELIUS D. MURRAY, O’Connell and Aronowitz, P.C., Albany, NY, for Plaintiffs Appellants Cross Appellees. KATHERINE J. BARTON, United States Department of Justice, Environment & Natural Resources Division, Washington, D.C. (Michael Hoenig, Office of General Counsel, National Indian Gaming Commission, Washington, D.C.; Andrew S. Caulum, Office of the Solicitor, United States Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.; Robert G. Dreher, Sam Hirsch, Acting Assistant Attorney General; William J. Hochul, Jr., United States Attorney for the Western District of New York, Buffalo, NY; Mary E. Fleming, Assistant United States Attorney, Western District of New York, Buffalo, NY; Gina L. Allery, John L. Smeltzer, United States Department of Justice, Environment & National Resources Division, Washington, D.C., on the brief), for Defendants Appellees Cross Appellants. RIYAZ A. KANJI, Kanji & Katzen, PLLC, Ann Arbor, MI (Christopher Karns, General Counsel, Seneca Nation of Indians, Salamanca, NY; Carol E. Heckman, Harter, Secrest & Emery, LLP, Buffalo, NY; David A. Giampetroni, Lucy Wells 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 Braun, Philip H. Tinker, Kanji & Katzen, PLLC, Ann Arbor, MI, on the brief), for the Seneca Nation of Indians as amicus curiae in support of Defendants Appellees Cross Appellants. DRONEY, Circuit Judge: 7 The plaintiffs appellants (“plaintiffs”) are organizations and 8 individuals that oppose the operation of a casino in Buffalo, New 9 York, by the Seneca Nation of Indians. They brought three 10 successive lawsuits in the United States District Court for the 11 Western District of New York against the National Indian Gaming 12 Commission (“NIGC”), its Chairman, the U.S. Department of the 13 Interior (“DOI”), and the Secretary of the Interior. In these three 14 actions, the plaintiffs argued that the NIGC did not act in accordance 15 with federal law in approving an ordinance and subsequent 16 amendments to that ordinance that permitted the Seneca Nation to 17 operate a class III gaming facility—a casino—on land owned by the 18 Seneca Nation in Buffalo (“the Buffalo Parcel”). In the third lawsuit 19 (“CACGEC III”), which addressed the NIGC’s approval of the most 4 1 recent version of the ordinance, the district court (Skretny, J.) denied 2 the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and entered judgment 3 dismissing the case. 4 We hold that the district court correctly dismissed the 5 plaintiffs’ complaint in CACGEC III because the DOI and the NIGC’s 6 determination that the Buffalo Parcel is eligible for class III gaming 7 under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (“IGRA”), 25 U.S.C. 8 §§ 2701–2721, was not arbitrary or capricious, an abuse of discretion, 9 or in violation of law. We further hold that Congress intended the 10 Buffalo Parcel to be subject to tribal jurisdiction, as required for the 11 land to be eligible for gaming under IGRA. Finally, we hold that 12 IGRA Section 20’s prohibition of gaming on trust lands acquired 13 after IGRA’s enactment in 1988, 25 U.S.C. § 2719(a), does not apply 14 to the Buffalo Parcel. Because the gaming ordinances at issue in the 15 first two lawsuits (“CACGEC I” and “CACGEC II”) have been 16 superseded by the most recent amended ordinance, the appeals of 5 1 CACGEC I and CACGEC II are moot. Accordingly, we AFFIRM the 2 judgment of the district court in CACGEC III and dismiss the 3 appeals of CACGEC I and CACGEC II. 4 BACKGROUND 5 This appeal has a long history that, as mentioned above, 6 includes three lawsuits. While much of that background is described 7 here, a more detailed history can be found in the district court’s 8 prior opinions in those cases. See Citizens Against Casino Gambling in 9 Erie Cty. v. Kempthorne, 471 F. Supp. 2d 295 (“CACGEC I”), amended 10 on reconsideration by No. 06 CV 0001, 2007 WL 1200473 (W.D.N.Y. 11 Apr. 20, 2007); Citizens Against Casino Gambling in Erie Cty. v. Hogen, 12 No. 07 CV 451 (WMS), 2008 WL 2746566 (W.D.N.Y. July 8, 2008) 13 (“CACGEC II”); Citizens Against Casino Gambling in Erie Cty. v. 14 Stevens, 945 F. Supp. 2d 391 (W.D.N.Y. 2013) (“CACGEC III”). 6 1 I. Statutory Background 2 Understanding the factual and procedural background of this 3 appeal requires familiarity with two statutory schemes: the Indian 4 Gaming Regulatory Act, 25 U.S.C. §§ 2701–2721, and the Seneca 5 Nation Settlement Act of 1990 (“SNSA”), 25 U.S.C. §§ 1774–1774h. 6 A. 7 Congress enacted IGRA in 1988 to “to provide a statutory 8 basis for the operation of gaming by Indian tribes as a means of 9 promoting tribal economic development, self sufficiency, and strong 10 tribal governments.” 25 U.S.C. § 2702(1). IGRA established 11 independent federal regulatory authority and federal standards for 12 gaming on Indian lands. See id. § 2702(3). It also established the 13 NIGC as a commission within the DOI to monitor gaming and 14 promulgate regulations and guidelines to implement IGRA. See id. 15 §§ 2704(a), 2706(b). The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act 16 IGRA authorizes gaming on “Indian lands,” which it defines 17 as (1) “all lands within the limits of any Indian reservation” and (2) 7 1 “any lands title to which is either held in trust by the United States 2 for the benefit of any Indian tribe or individual or held by any 3 Indian tribe or individual subject to restriction by the United States 4 against alienation and over which an Indian tribe exercises 5 governmental power.”1 Id. § 2703(4). 6 Three classes of gaming may be permitted on Indian lands, 7 subject to different levels of regulation. See id. § 2710. At issue here is 8 “class III” gaming, which is “the most closely regulated” form of 9 gaming under IGRA. Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Cmty., 134 S. Ct. 10 2024, 2028 (2014). It “includes casino games, slot machines, and 11 horse racing.” Id. 12 13 Indian lands are eligible for class III gaming activities only if those activities are: 14 15 16 17 (A) authorized by an ordinance or resolution that— (i) is adopted by the governing body of the Indian tribe having jurisdiction over such lands, The distinction between lands held in trust by the United States and lands held subject to a restriction against alienation is discussed later in this opinion. 1 8 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 (ii) meets the requirements of subsection (b) of this section,[2] and (iii) is approved by the Chairman [of the NIGC], (B) located in a State that permits such gaming for any purpose by any person, organization, or entity, and (C) conducted in conformance with a Tribal State compact entered into by the Indian tribe and the State . . . that is in effect. 12 25 U.S.C. § 2710(d)(1). In this way, IGRA “seeks to balance the 13 competing sovereign interests of the federal government, state 14 governments, and Indian tribes, by giving each a role in the 15 regulatory scheme.” Artichoke Joe s Cal. Grand Casino v. Norton, 353 16 F.3d 712, 715 (9th Cir. 2003). 17 Section 20 of IGRA, however, prohibits gaming “on lands 18 acquired by the Secretary [of the Interior] in trust for the benefit of 19 an Indian tribe after October 17, 1988,” the date of IGRA’s Subsection (b) provides that “[t]he Chairman [of the NIGC] shall approve any tribal ordinance or resolution concerning the conduct[] or regulation of class II gaming on the Indian lands within the tribe’s jurisdiction if [certain conditions are met].” See 25 U.S.C. § 2710(b)(2). The additional conditions listed in subsection (b) are not at issue on this appeal. 2 9 1 enactment. 25 U.S.C. § 2719(a). This prohibition is subject to some 2 exceptions, including one of relevance here for subsequently 3 acquired “lands [that] are taken into trust as part of . . . a settlement 4 of a land claim.” Id. § 2719(b)(1)(B)(i). 5 6 B. The Seneca Nation Settlement Act of 1990 1. The Seneca Nation of Indians 7 The Seneca Nation of Indians is one of the Six Nations of the 8 Iroquois Confederacy. See Banner v. United States, 238 F.3d 1348, 1350 9 (Fed. Cir. 2001); Seneca Nation of Indians v. New York, 206 F. Supp. 2d 10 448, 458 (W.D.N.Y. 2002), aff d, 382 F.3d 245 (2d Cir. 2004). Prior to 11 the colonization of North America, the Iroquois Confederacy 12 occupied approximately thirty five million acres of land east of the 13 Mississippi River, mostly in modern day New York and 14 Pennsylvania. See Banner, 238 F.3d at 1350. 15 By the end of the Revolutionary War, the Six Nations lost 16 most of what has been referred to as their “aboriginal lands” to the 17 European settlers. See id. The Senecas—who had been allied with 10 1 Great Britain during the war—were largely driven from their 2 villages and settled along the banks of Buffalo Creek in what is now 3 Buffalo, New York. See Seneca Nation of Indians, 206 F. Supp. 2d at 4 469, 471. 5 In 1790, Congress passed the first Indian Trade and 6 Intercourse Act (“the Non Intercourse Act”), ch. 33, 1 Stat. 137 7 (1790); see Mohegan Tribe v. Connecticut, 638 F.2d 612, 616 (2d Cir. 8 1980). The Act provided that: 9 10 11 12 13 14 no sale of lands made by any Indians, or any nation or tribe of Indians . . . within the United States, shall be valid to any person or persons, or to any state, . . . unless the same shall be made and duly executed at some public treaty, held under the authority of the United States. 15 Non Intercourse Act § 4, 1 Stat. at 138. The Act’s “obvious purpose” 16 was “to prevent unfair, improvident or improper disposition by 17 Indians of lands owned or possessed by them to other parties, except 18 the United States, without the consent of Congress, and to enable the 11 1 Government, acting as parens patriae[3] for the Indians, to vacate 2 any disposition of their lands made without its consent.” Fed. Power 3 Comm’n v. Tuscarora Indian Nation, 362 U.S. 99, 119 (1960). The Non 4 Intercourse Act (in amended form) remains in effect today and now 5 prohibits the “purchase, grant, lease, or other conveyance of lands, 6 or of any title or claim thereto, from any Indian nation or tribe of 7 Indians” without federal authorization. 25 U.S.C. § 177. 8 In 1794, the United States and the Iroquois Confederacy 9 entered into the Treaty of Canandaigua (Treaty with the Six 10 Nations), Nov. 11, 1794, 7 Stat. 44. See Banner, 238 F.3d at 1350. The 11 treaty described the Seneca Nation’s lands as encompassing much of 12 the western part of New York. See id. at 1350; see also 7 Stat. at 45. 13 “[O]ccupancy of the[se] land[s] . . . was granted the Senecas free of When the Government acts as parens patriae, it acts “in its capacity as provider of protection to those unable to care for themselves.” Parens Patriae, Black’s Law Dictionary 1287 (10th ed. 2014). “[T]he traditional concept of parens patriae . . . [was drawn from] the King’s power as guardian of persons under legal disability to act for themselves . . . .” Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ex rel. Quiros v. Bramkamp, 654 F.2d 212, 217 (2d Cir. 1981). 3 12 1 the operation of state laws.” United States v. City of Salamanca, 27 F. 2 Supp. 541, 544 (W.D.N.Y. 1939). In the treaty, the United States 3 acknowledged that these lands were “the property of the Seneka 4 [N]ation . . . until they choose to sell [them]” and promised that the 5 United States would “never claim the same [lands].” 7 Stat. at 45. 6 7 however, through a series of subsequent treaties. Most notably, in 8 the Treaty of Big Tree in 1797, the federal government authorized 9 Robert Morris to purchase the vast majority of the Seneca Nation’s 10 landholdings. See Treaty of Big Tree (Treaty with the Seneca, 1797), 11 Sept. 15, 1797, 7 Stat. 601; see also City of Salamanca, 27 F. Supp. at 544. 12 This purchase left the Seneca Nation with approximately 200,000 13 acres of reservation lands, including the Allegany Reservation in 14 Cattaraugus County, New York. See 7 Stat. at 602; City of Salamanca, 15 27 F. Supp. at 544. The Seneca Nation’s land base decreased significantly, 13 1 2. The Allegany Reservation Leases 2 The present Seneca Nation’s “Allegany Reservation lies along 3 that part of the Allegheny River that hooks into New York. It 4 extends approximately 42 miles along a narrow strip averaging a 5 mile wide on both sides of the river from Vandalia, New York, to the 6 Pennsylvania border.” H.R. Rep. No. 101 832, at 3 (1990). While it 7 was originally considered to be of little value, the land’s worth 8 increased significantly as railroads were built through it to the west. 9 City of Salamanca, 27 F. Supp. at 544. Throughout the mid 1800s, non 10 Indians settled in an area of the Allegany Reservation located at the 11 junction of three major intercontinental railroads. Banner, 238 F.3d at 12 1351. The junction and the settlement that arose around it became 13 what is now the City of Salamanca in Cattaraugus County. Id. 14 Early settlers on the Allegany Reservation entered into 15 property leases with the Seneca Nation. Id. Sometime before 1875, 16 New York state courts declared the leases invalid under the Non 14 1 Intercourse Act, because they had been taken without the 2 authorization of the federal government. See City of Salamanca, 27 F. 3 Supp. at 544; see also Buffalo, R. & P.R. Co. v. Lavery, 27 N.Y.S. 443, 444 4 (N.Y. Gen. Term 1894). The State of New York subsequently asked 5 Congress to provide authorization for the leases by ratifying them. 6 City of Salamanca, 27 F. Supp. at 544. 7 In 1875, Congress ratified the leases, providing that they 8 would be valid for five years and renewable for a period not 9 exceeding twelve years. See Act of Feb. 19, 1875, ch. 90, 18 Stat., pt. 3, 10 at 330; City of Salamanca, 27 F. Supp. at 544. In 1890, Congress 11 extended the lease renewal period to ninety nine years. See Act of 12 Sept. 30, 1890, ch. 1132, 26 Stat. 558; Fluent v. Salamanca Indian Lease 13 Auth., 928 F.2d 542, 544 (2d Cir. 1991). 14 The leases became a source of tension between the Seneca 15 Nation, its lessees, and the state and federal governments. See 25 16 U.S.C. § 1774(a). “The average rent on these leases was a nominal 15 1 amount, between $1 and $10 annually, and did not increase over the 2 entire 99 year term of the leases.” Banner, 238 F.3d at 1351. 3 Accordingly, the Seneca Nation claimed that it had been forced to 4 accept below market rents for the leases, and that the federal 5 government had participated in denying the Nation fair value for 6 the land by ratifying the leases. See id. at 1351–52. 7 3. The Seneca Nation Settlement Act 8 In anticipation of the expiration of the renewed leases in 1991, 9 the State of New York began negotiating new leases with the Seneca 10 Nation in 1969. See Fluent, 928 F.2d at 544. The Seneca Nation agreed 11 to provide new 40 year leases to its lessees, with a right to renew the 12 leases for an additional 40 years. Id. One of the conditions of this 13 agreement between the Seneca Nation and New York was that New 14 York and the federal government would pay the Seneca Nation the 15 estimated difference between the rents that the Seneca Nation had 16 1 actually received and the fair market rental value of the leases over 2 the 99 year period. See id. 3 Congress responded by enacting the SNSA, which 4 appropriated thirty five million dollars to the Seneca Nation.4 See 25 5 U.S.C. §§ 1774, 1774d(b). Release of these funds was contingent upon 6 the Seneca Nation agreeing to offer new leases and relinquishing its 7 claims for rental payments accrued prior to February 20, 1991. See id. 8 § 1774b. Of these funds, Congress designated thirty million dollars 9 “to be managed, invested, and used by the [Seneca] Nation to 10 further specific objectives of the [Seneca] Nation and its members, all 11 as determined by the [Seneca] Nation in accordance with the 12 Constitution and laws of the [Seneca] Nation.” Id. § 1774d(b)(1). The 13 other five million dollars was “to be used for the economic and 14 community development of the Seneca Nation.” Id. § 1774d(b)(2)(A). New York paid an additional twenty five million dollars. See Fluent, 928 F.2d at 544. 4 17 1 Also especially important to this case is a provision of the 2 SNSA that permitted the Seneca Nation to acquire additional land 3 with the funds it provided: 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 Land within [the Seneca Nation’s] aboriginal area in . . . [New York] State or situated within or near proximity to former reservation land may be acquired by the Seneca Nation with funds appropriated pursuant to this subchapter. State and local governments shall have a period of 30 days after notification by the Secretary [of the Interior] or the Seneca Nation of acquisition of, or intent to acquire such lands to comment on the impact of the removal of such lands from real property tax rolls of State political subdivisions. Unless the Secretary determines within 30 days after the comment period that such lands should not be subject to the provisions of section 2116 of the Revised Statutes (25 U.S.C. 177) [(the Non Intercourse Act)], such lands shall be subject to the provisions of that Act and shall be held in restricted fee status by the Seneca Nation. 20 Id. § 1774f(c) (emphasis added). 21 22 acquired tribal lands to be held in restricted fee. Most restricted fee 23 lands attained this status under the allotment system of the late 24 nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when the federal The SNSA is unique in creating a mechanism for newly 18 1 government transferred parcels of tribal lands to individual Indians 2 via either “trust patents” or “restricted fee patents.” See United States 3 v. Bowling, 256 U.S. 484, 486–87 (1921); see also Cohen’s Handbook of 4 Federal Indian Law § 16.03[1] (Nell Jessup Newton ed., 2012) (“Cohen’s 5 Handbook”); Louis R. Moore & Michael E. Webster, 2 26 Law of 6 Federal Oil and Gas Leases § 26.01(3) (2014). Under trust patents, 7 title was held by the United States in trust for the allottee, while 8 under restricted fee patents, Indians received fee title subject to 9 restrictions on alienation imposed by the United States. See Bowling, 10 256 U.S. at 486–87; Moore & Webster, supra § 26.01(3). As a practical 11 matter, the distinction between the two kinds of patents had little 12 effect, since both types of allotments were subject to restrictions 13 imposed by the United States. See, e.g., Okla. Tax Comm n v. United 14 States, 319 U.S. 598, 618 (1943) (“The power of Congress over ‘trust’ 15 and ‘restricted’ lands is the same, and in practice the terms have 16 been used interchangeably.” (citation omitted)); Bowling, 256 U.S. at 19 1 487 (“As respects both classes of allotments—one as much as the 2 other—the United States possesses a supervisory control over the 3 land . . . .”). 4 Although the allotment system was for the most part 5 abandoned by 1934, see Cohen’s Handbook § 16.03[2][c], limitations on 6 trust lands and restricted fee lands continue to affect Indian 7 landholding. See, e.g., 25 C.F.R. § 151.2(d), (e); 43 C.F.R. § 4.201. DOI 8 regulations, first enacted in 1980, define “[t]rust land or land in trust 9 status” as “land the title to which is held in trust by the United 10 States for an individual Indian or a tribe.” 25 C.F.R. § 151.2(d). In 11 contrast, “[r]estricted land or land in restricted status” is defined as 12 follows: 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 land the title to which is held by an individual Indian or a tribe and which can only be alienated or encumbered by the owner with the approval of the Secretary because of limitations contained in the conveyance instrument pursuant to Federal law or because of a Federal law directly imposing such limitations. Id. § 151.2(e). 20 1 Most newly acquired tribal lands today are held in trust by 2 the federal government pursuant to the Indian Reorganization Act 3 of 1934 (“IRA”), 25 U.S.C. §§ 461–494a.5 See 25 U.S.C. § 465; Cohen’s 4 Handbook § 15.03; see also City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of 5 N.Y., 544 U.S. 197, 220–21 (2005) (discussing this mechanism of the 6 IRA). The IRA authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to convert fee 7 lands owned by a tribe to trust status by accepting legal title to these 8 lands in the name of the United States in trust for the tribe. See 9 Cohen’s Handbook § 15.07[1][b]; see also 25 U.S.C. § 465. 10 In contrast to the IRA, § 1774f(c) of the SNSA authorizes the 11 Secretary of the Interior to permit the Seneca Nation to hold lands 12 that the tribe acquires with SNSA funds in restricted fee status. See Under the IRA, “[t]he Secretary of the Interior is authorized, in his discretion, to acquire, through purchase, relinquishment, gift, exchange, or assignment, any interest in lands . . . , within or without existing reservations, . . . for the purpose of providing land for Indians.” 25 U.S.C. § 465. Title to any lands acquired pursuant to the IRA “shall be taken in the name of the United States in trust for the Indian tribe or individual Indian for which the land is acquired, and such lands or rights shall be exempt from State and local taxation.” Id. 5 21 1 25 U.S.C. § 1774f(c). As mentioned previously, the SNSA appears to 2 be unique in this regard. 3 II. Factual Background to This Action 4 On August 18, 2002, the Seneca Nation and the State of New 5 York executed a Nation State Gaming Compact (“the Compact”), 6 stating that the Seneca Nation would be permitted to establish class 7 III gaming facilities in the City of Buffalo on lands purchased with 8 SNSA funds. New York agreed to support the Seneca Nation “in its 9 use of the procedure set forth in . . . 25 U.S.C. § 1774f(c), to acquire 10 restricted fee status for [those] site[s].” J.A. 124. 11 Because then Secretary of the Interior Gale A. Norton declined 12 to approve or disapprove the Compact within 45 days after it was 13 submitted for approval, it was considered approved under IGRA as 14 of October 25, 2002.6 In her written statement, Secretary Norton IGRA provides that “[i]f the Secretary [of the Interior] does not approve or disapprove a compact . . . before the date that is 45 days after the date on which the compact is submitted to the Secretary for approval, the compact shall be 6 22 1 concluded that the prohibition of gaming on after acquired land in 2 Section 20 of IGRA applied to restricted fee lands, but that class III 3 gaming activities would nevertheless be permissible on the lands 4 described in the Compact because they were “Indian lands” subject 5 to the tribe’s jurisdiction and Section 20’s “settlement of a land 6 claim” exception applied. See 25 U.S.C. §§ 2710(d)(1), 2719(b)(1)(B)(i). 7 On November 25, 2002, the Seneca Nation submitted a 8 proposed class III gaming ordinance to the NIGC Chairman for 9 approval. The proposed ordinance stated that it would permit and 10 regulate gaming on the Seneca Nation’s “Nation lands,” which were 11 equivalent to “Indian lands” as defined in IGRA, but it did not 12 specify a particular geographic location. J.A. 241. On November 26, 13 2002, then NIGC Chairman Philip N. Hogen approved the 14 ordinance. considered to have been approved by the Secretary, but only to the extent the compact is consistent with the provisions of [IGRA].” 25 U.S.C. § 2710(d)(8)(C). 23 1 On October 3, 2005, the Seneca Nation purchased 2 approximately nine acres of land in Buffalo, New York—the Buffalo 3 Parcel. That same day, the Seneca Nation President notified the 4 Governor of New York, the County Executive of Erie County, and 5 the Mayor of the City of Buffalo of the purchase, stating that the 6 lands were “acquired . . . for the purposes set forth in the ‘Nation 7 State Gaming Compact.’” J.A. 212, 216, 220. 8 After 30 days passed without comment, the Seneca Nation 9 notified the Secretary of the Interior of its “compliance” with the 10 SNSA and stated that “the Buffalo Parcel[] w[as] acquired by the 11 Seneca Nation in order to operate Class III gaming and related 12 facilities pursuant to the Nation State Gaming Compact.” J.A. 142. 13 The Secretary of the Interior did not determine within 30 days after 14 the comment period that the Buffalo Parcel should not be subject to 15 the Non Intercourse Act, 25 U.S.C. § 177. Accordingly, at that time, 24 1 the Buffalo Parcel became “restricted fee” land by operation of the 2 SNSA. See 25 U.S.C. § 1774f(c). 3 III. Proceedings in the District Court 4 A. The First Lawsuit (CACGEC I) 5 In January 2006, the plaintiffs—certain anti gaming groups, 6 legislators, and individual residents and owners of land in Buffalo— 7 sued the NIGC and the DOI, challenging the approval of the 8 ordinance. See Compl., Citizens Against Casino Gambling in Erie Cty. v. 9 Kempthorne, No. 06 CV 001 (WMS) (W.D.N.Y. filed Jan. 3, 2006). The 10 defendants moved to dismiss the complaint, and the plaintiffs 11 moved for summary judgment. See CACGEC I, 471 F. Supp. 2d at 12 302. 13 On January 12, 2007, the district court denied the defendants’ 14 motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims against the NIGC, 15 concluding that the NIGC Chairman had not determined whether 16 the lands were subject to IGRA before approving the ordinance. See 17 CACGEC I, 471 F. Supp. 2d at 303. In particular, there was no 25 1 indication in the record that the NIGC Chairman had considered the 2 location where the Seneca Nation intended to purchase land or the 3 manner in which it intended to acquire and hold that land. See id. 4 The court found that “whether Indian gaming will occur on Indian 5 lands is a threshold jurisdictional question that the NIGC must 6 address on ordinance review.” Id. The court therefore vacated the 7 ordinance approval and remanded the ordinance to the NIGC. Id. at 8 323–27. 9 B. The Second Lawsuit (CACGEC II) 10 After CACGEC I, the Seneca Nation submitted an amended 11 class III gaming ordinance identifying the Buffalo Parcel to the 12 NIGC. On July 2, 2007, Chairman Hogen approved the ordinance, 13 finding that the Buffalo Parcel was eligible for gaming for the same 14 reasons articulated by Secretary Norton. 15 On July 12, 2007, the plaintiffs filed a new lawsuit challenging 16 the approval of the amended ordinance. See Compl., Citizens Against 17 Casino Gambling in Erie Cty. v. Hogen, No. 07 CV 451 (WMS) 26 1 (W.D.N.Y. filed Jul. 12, 2007). The defendants moved to dismiss the 2 complaint, and the plaintiffs moved for summary judgment. See 3 CACGEC II, 2008 WL 2746566 at *2. The Seneca Nation appeared as 4 amicus curiae in support of the defendants. See id. at *28. 5 The district court agreed with the defendants that the Seneca 6 Nation has jurisdiction over the Buffalo Parcel and that the Buffalo 7 Parcel constitutes “Indian lands” under IGRA, id. at *51, but found 8 the NIGC’s conclusion that the Buffalo Parcel was exempt from 9 Section 20’s prohibition to be arbitrary and capricious. Id. at *61–62. 10 The court rejected the Seneca Nation’s argument as amicus curiae that 11 the prohibition does not apply to restricted fee lands,7 see id. at *53, 12 and concluded that the “settlement of a land claim” exception did 13 not apply. Id. at *58–61. The court therefore granted the plaintiffs’ 14 motion for summary judgment and vacated the amended ordinance. 15 Id. at *62 63. The plaintiffs appealed the court’s holding that the In CACGEC II, neither the plaintiffs nor the defendants challenged Chairman Hogen’s conclusion that Section 20’s prohibition applies to lands held in restricted fee. See CACGEC II, 2008 WL 2746566, at *53. 7 27 1 Buffalo Parcel was “Indian lands” subject to tribal jurisdiction, and 2 the defendants cross appealed the grant of the plaintiffs’ motion for 3 summary judgment. 4 C. The Third Lawsuit (CACGEC III) 5 While decision on the parties’ cross motions was pending in 6 CACGEC II, the DOI promulgated final regulations regarding IGRA 7 Section 20. See 25 C.F.R. §§ 292.1–292.26; Gaming on Trust Lands 8 Acquired After October 17, 1988, 73 Fed. Reg. 29,354 01 (May 20, 9 2008). The regulations prohibit gaming on “land that has been taken, 10 or will be taken, in trust for the benefit of an Indian tribe by the 11 United States after October 17, 1988.” 25 C.F.R. § 292.2. The DOI 12 explained that it specifically declined to include restricted fee lands 13 in this definition because Section 20 “refers only to lands acquired in 14 trust” and “[t]he omission of restricted fee from [Section 20] is 15 considered purposeful, because Congress referred to restricted fee 16 lands elsewhere in IGRA, including at [25 U.S.C. §§] 2719(a)(2)(A)(ii) 17 and 2703(4)(B).” 73 Fed. Reg. at 29,355. The regulations became 28 1 effective on August 25, 2008. Gaming on Trust Lands Acquired After 2 October 17, 1988; Correction, 73 Fed. Reg. 35,579 02 (June 24, 2008). 3 On October 22, 2008, the Seneca Nation submitted another 4 amended gaming ordinance to the NIGC for approval. On 5 November 14, 2008, the NIGC requested that the DOI explain its 6 new interpretation of Section 20 to assist the Chairman in deciding 7 whether to approve the amended ordinance. 8 On January 18, 2009, the DOI responded with a Solicitor’s M 9 Opinion.8 The Solicitor concluded that by its plain text Section 20 10 unambiguously applies only to trust lands, and that even if the 11 phrase “in trust” was ambiguous, the DOI’s interpretation was 12 reasonable. The Solicitor concluded that, in reaching the opposite 13 conclusion, Secretary Norton had mistakenly assumed that all off The Solicitor of the DOI has authority over the DOI’s “legal work.” 43 U.S.C. § 1455. An M Opinion is a formal legal opinion signed by the Solicitor. See Sam Kalen, Changing Administrations and Environmental Guidance Documents, 23 Nat. Res. & Env’t 13, 14 (2008). “[T]he Solicitor’s M Opinions are binding on the DOI as a whole. After an M Opinion is completed, the DOI will take action consistent with the legal interpretation explained by the Solicitor.” Sims v. Ellis, 972 F. Supp. 2d 1196, 1202 n.5 (D. Idaho 2013). 8 29 1 reservation lands acquired by tribes after IGRA would automatically 2 be subject to the restriction on alienation imposed by the Non 3 Intercourse Act. According to the Solicitor, off reservation lands 4 acquired in fee are not automatically subject to the Non Intercourse 5 Act in the absence of further action by the federal government.9 6 On January 20, 2009, the NIGC Chairman approved the 7 Seneca Nation’s second amended gaming ordinance. The Chairman 8 stated that the NIGC had reexamined its position regarding the 9 applicability of Section 20 to restricted fee lands in light of the DOI’s 10 regulations. In a 22 page letter, the Chairman detailed his analysis of 11 whether the Buffalo Parcel was eligible for class III gaming. The 12 Chairman concluded that the Seneca Nation has jurisdiction over the 13 Buffalo Parcel and that the Buffalo Parcel qualifies as “Indian lands”; The plaintiffs claim that the DOI regulations regarding Section 20 and the Solicitor’s M Opinion were infected by a conflict of interest due to the involvement of a particular attorney at the DOI’s Solicitor’s Office. That attorney was married to a partner at a law firm that has performed lobbying work for the Seneca Nation in the past. We have considered this argument and found it to be without merit because, inter alia, the record does not demonstrate an actual conflict of interest that affected the regulations or the M Opinion. 9 30 1 adopted the DOI’s position that as restricted fee land it is not subject 2 to Section 20’s prohibition; and approved the ordinance. 3 On March 31, 2009, the plaintiffs filed a third lawsuit, 4 challenging the NIGC’s approval of the most recent ordinance. 5 Compl., Citizens Against Casino Gambling in Erie Cty. v. Stevens, No. 6 09 CV 291 (WMS) (W.D.N.Y. filed Mar. 31, 2009). The plaintiffs 7 challenged the defendants’ (1) determination that the Buffalo Parcel 8 qualifies as “Indian lands” and that the Seneca Nation has 9 jurisdiction over it, (2) interpretation of Section 20, and (3) 10 interpretation of the “settlement of a land claim” exception. The 11 plaintiffs also alleged that the DOI had acted arbitrarily and 12 capriciously in promulgating its Section 20 regulations. 13 The defendants filed the Administrative Record of the NIGC 14 and the DOI concerning the NIGC’s January 2009 approval of the 15 Seneca Nation’s gaming ordinance with the court. 31 1 2 On September 20, 2012, the plaintiffs moved for summary judgment on all claims. See CACGEC III, 945 F. Supp. 2d at 393. 3 In a May 10, 2013 opinion, the district court denied the 4 plaintiffs’ motion and dismissed the case, finding that the Buffalo 5 Parcel is eligible for class III gaming under IGRA. Id. at 411, 413. The 6 district court first reaffirmed its earlier holding in CACGEC II that 7 the Buffalo Parcel is subject to tribal jurisdiction and constitutes 8 “Indian lands.” Id. at 400–05. As to Section 20, however, the court 9 found that a “new and critical dispute ha[d] surfaced” because the 10 parties no longer agreed that Section 20’s prohibition applied to 11 lands held in restricted fee.10 Id. at 393. Pointing to IGRA’s plain text, 12 the district court held that Congress intended Section 20’s 13 prohibition to apply only to lands held in trust. See id. at 407. The 14 court also found the agencies’ interpretation of Section 20 to be 15 reasonable, observing that the “NIGC fully considered Secretary The district court concluded that its discussion of this issue in CACGEC II was dictum because the argument had been raised only by the amicus curiae. CACGEC III, 945 F. Supp. 2d at 406. 10 32 1 Norton’s earlier reasoning” and that “both [the] DOI and NIGC 2 considered the body of Indian law existing at the time of IGRA’s 3 passage and thereafter.” Id. at 408. Finally, because the Buffalo 4 Parcel was not subject to Section 20’s prohibition, the court declined 5 to address the applicability of the “settlement of a land claim” 6 exception and dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims. Id. at 412–13. 7 The plaintiffs appealed. On September 11, 2013, the appeal of 8 CACGEC I, cross appeals of CACGEC II, and appeal of CACGEC III 9 were consolidated. 10 DISCUSSION 11 The plaintiffs contend that the district court erred in CACGEC 12 III in upholding the DOI and the NIGC’s determination that the 13 Buffalo Parcel is eligible for class III gaming and in upholding their 14 approval of the amended gaming ordinance. The plaintiffs argue 15 that the agencies acted arbitrarily and capriciously, and in violation 16 of law, in concluding (1) that the Buffalo Parcel is subject to the 33 1 Seneca Nation’s tribal jurisdiction, which is a prerequisite for land to 2 be eligible for gaming under IGRA, (2) that the Buffalo Parcel 3 qualifies as “Indian lands” as defined in IGRA, 25 U.S.C. § 2703(4), 4 and (3) that the Parcel is not subject to Section 20’s prohibition on 5 gaming on lands acquired after IGRA’s enactment. 11 6 I. Standard of Review 7 “Under the Administrative Procedure Act [(“APA”), 5 U.S.C. 8 §§ 701–706], a [district] court may ‘hold unlawful and set aside 9 agency action, findings, and conclusions found to be . . . arbitrary, 10 capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance The parties and the district court apparently regarded the question of whether the Buffalo Parcel was subject to tribal jurisdiction to be part of the analysis of whether it qualifies as “Indian lands,” as defined in IGRA, 25 U.S.C. § 2703(4). See, e.g., CACGEC III, 945 F. Supp. 2d at 400–05. Because we find that other provisions of IGRA—beyond the definition of “Indian lands”—expressly require a finding of tribal jurisdiction as a prerequisite to gaming, see 25 U.S.C. § 2710(b)(2), (d)(1)(A), we discuss the tribal jurisdiction question and the “Indian lands” question separately below. It is clear, though, from the plaintiffs’ arguments before the district court and on appeal that the plaintiffs’ challenge to the agencies’ “Indian lands” determination includes a challenge to the agencies’ determination that the Seneca Nation has jurisdiction over the Buffalo Parcel. See Appellants’ Br. at 31–52. 11 34 1 with law.’” Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc. v. Muszynski, 268 F.3d 91, 96– 2 97 (2d Cir. 2001) (ellipsis in original) (quoting 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A)). 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 [A]gency action is arbitrary and capricious “if the agency has relied on factors which Congress has not intended it to consider, entirely failed to consider an important aspect of the problem, offered an explanation for its decision that runs counter to the evidence before the agency, or is so implausible that it could not be ascribed to a difference in view or the product of agency expertise.” 11 Nat. Res. Def. Council v. U.S. EPA, 658 F.3d 200, 215 (2d Cir. 2011) 12 (quoting Motor Vehicle Mfrs. Ass n of U.S., Inc. v. State Farm Mut. 13 Auto. Ins. Co., 463 U.S. 29, 43 (1983)). 14 “Review under [5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A)] is ‘narrow,’ limited to 15 examining the administrative record to determine ‘whether the 16 [agency] decision was based on a consideration of the relevant 17 factors and whether there has been a clear error of judgment.’” 18 Muszynski, 268 F.3d at 97 (second alteration in original) (quoting City 19 of New York v. Shalala, 34 F.3d 1161, 1167 (2d Cir. 1994)). “This court 35 1 reviews a district court’s review of an agency action de novo.” Id. at 2 96. 3 Agency actions are generally reviewable under the APA as 4 long as (1) there has been a “final agency action,” (2) the final agency 5 action is not committed to agency discretion by law, and (3) 6 Congress, subject to constitutional constraints, did not implicitly or 7 explicitly preclude judicial review. See Sharkey v. Quarantillo, 541 8 F.3d 75, 87 (2d Cir. 2008). IGRA expressly provides that “[d]ecisions 9 made by the Commission pursuant to section[] 2710, [which 10 includes approval of gaming ordinances,] . . . shall be final agency 11 decisions for purposes of appeal to the appropriate Federal district 12 court pursuant to [the APA].” 25 U.S.C. § 2714. Where a “final 13 agency action” is presented for review, “intermediate actions 14 leading up to that final action are reviewable as well.” Benzman v. 15 Whitman, 523 F.3d 119, 132 (2d Cir. 2008) (citing 5 U.S.C. § 704). 36 1 2 II. Whether the Seneca Nation Has Jurisdiction Over the Buffalo Parcel 3 IGRA requires that any tribe seeking to conduct gaming on 4 land must have jurisdiction over that land. See 25 U.S.C. 5 § 2710(d)(1)(A) (“Class III gaming activities shall be lawful on Indian 6 lands only if such activities are . . . authorized by an ordinance or 7 resolution that . . . is adopted by the governing body of the Indian 8 tribe having jurisdiction over such lands, [and] . . . meets the 9 requirements of subsection (b) of this section . . . .”); id. § 2710(b)(2) 10 (“The Chairman [of the NIGC] shall approve any tribal ordinance or 11 resolution concerning the conduct, or regulation of class II gaming 12 on the Indian lands within the tribe’s jurisdiction if [certain 13 conditions are met].”). Thus, we first address the plaintiffs’ 14 argument that the agencies erred in concluding that the Seneca 15 Nation has jurisdiction over the Buffalo Parcel. 16 We begin our analysis by noting that what we refer to as 17 “tribal jurisdiction” is a combination of tribal and federal jurisdiction 37 1 over land, to the exclusion of the jurisdiction of the state. Lands 2 subject to federal and tribal jurisdiction have historically been 3 referred to as “Indian country.”12 See, e.g., Alaska v. Native Vill. of 4 Venetie Tribal Gov’t, 522 U.S. 520, 527 n.1 (1998); Yankton Sioux Tribe v. 5 Podhradsky, 606 F.3d 994, 1006 (8th Cir. 2010); Indian Country, U.S.A., 6 Inc. v. Oklahoma ex rel. Okla. Tax Comm’n, 829 F.2d 967, 973 (10th Cir. 7 1987) (collecting cases). “[P]rimary jurisdiction over land that is 8 Indian country rests with the Federal Government and the Indian 9 tribe inhabiting it, and not with the States.” Venetie, 522 U.S. at 527 10 n.1. Thus, “[a] state ordinarily may not regulate the property or 11 conduct of tribes . . . in Indian country.” Cohen’s Handbook 12 § 6.03[1][a]. “The limitation on state power in Indian country stems The term “Indian country” is not to be confused with the term “Indian lands,” which is statutorily defined in IGRA, 25 U.S.C. § 2703(4). See id. (“The term ‘Indian lands’ means—(A) all lands within the limits of any Indian reservation; and (B) any lands title to which is either held in trust by the United States for the benefit of any Indian tribe or individual or held by any Indian tribe or individual subject to restriction by the United States against alienation and over which an Indian tribe exercises governmental power.”). Whether the Buffalo Parcel satisfies the definition of “Indian lands” under IGRA is discussed below in Section III. 12 38 1 from the Indian commerce clause, which vests exclusive legislative 2 authority over Indian affairs in the federal government.” Id.; see U.S. 3 Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 3. “This constitutional vesting of federal 4 authority vis à vis the states allows tribal sovereignty to prevail in 5 Indian country, unless Congress legislates to the contrary.” Cohen’s 6 Handbook § 6.03[1][a]. “Because of plenary federal authority in 7 Indian affairs, there is no room for state regulation.” Id. Thus, the 8 question here is whether, through the SNSA, Congress removed the 9 Buffalo Parcel from New York State’s jurisdiction. 10 New York will “not have jurisdiction if [the Buffalo 11 Parcel] . . . [is] ‘Indian country.’” DeCoteau v. Dist. Cty. Court for 12 Tenth Judicial Dist., 420 U.S. 425, 427 (1975); see id. at 427 & n.2; see 13 also Venetie, 522 U.S. at 527 & n.1. “Indian country” is now statutorily 14 defined as 15 16 17 18 (a) all land within the limits of any Indian reservation under the jurisdiction of the United States Government, notwithstanding the issuance of any patent, and, including rights of way running through the 39 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 reservation, (b) all dependent Indian communities within the borders of the United States whether within the original or subsequently acquired territory thereof, and whether within or without the limits of a state, and (c) all Indian allotments, the Indian titles to which have not been extinguished, including rights of way running through the same. 8 18 U.S.C. § 1151. Although by its terms § 1151 relates only to federal 9 criminal jurisdiction, it has been “recognized [as] . . . appl[ying] to 10 questions of [a tribe’s] civil jurisdiction” as well. Venetie, 522 U.S. at 11 527. 12 The Buffalo Parcel is neither reservation land nor an 13 allotment. Therefore, we consider whether it qualifies as a 14 “dependent Indian communit[y].” See 18 U.S.C. § 1151. 15 Significantly, the term “dependent Indian communities” 16 developed historically, as “[t]he entire text of § 1151(b), 17 . . . [including] the term ‘dependent Indian communities,’ is taken 18 virtually verbatim from [United States v.] Sandoval[, 231 U.S. 28, 46 19 (1913)], which language [the Supreme Court] later quoted in [United 20 States v.] McGowan[, 302 U.S. 535, 538 (1938)].” Venetie, 522 U.S. at 40 1 530. “[T]he Historical and Revision Notes to the statute that enacted 2 § 1151 state that § 1151’s definition of Indian country is based on the 3 latest construction of the term by the United States Supreme Court 4 in U.S. v. McGowan . . . following U.S. v. Sandoval.” Id. (internal 5 quotation marks omitted). 6 Despite the long historical use of the term, it was explicitly 7 defined by the Supreme Court only within the last two decades. In 8 Alaska v. Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government, 522 U.S. at 527, 9 the Supreme Court defined “dependent Indian communities” as 10 referring to “a limited category of . . . lands . . . that satisfy two 11 requirements—first, they must have been set aside by the Federal 12 Government for the use of the Indians as Indian land; second, they 13 must be under federal superintendence.” Id. “The federal set aside 14 requirement ensures that the land in question is occupied by an 15 ‘Indian community’” and “reflects the fact that because Congress 16 has plenary power over Indian affairs, some explicit action by 41 1 Congress (or the Executive, acting under delegated authority) must 2 be taken to create or to recognize Indian country.”13 Id. at 531 & n.6 3 (citation omitted). “[T]he federal superintendence requirement 4 guarantees that the Indian community is sufficiently ‘dependent’ on 5 the Federal Government that the Federal Government and the 6 Indians involved, rather than the States, are to exercise primary 7 jurisdiction over the land in question.” Id. at 531. Federal 8 superintendence has been found where “the Federal Government 9 actively control[s] the lands in question, effectively acting as a 10 guardian for the Indians.” Id. at 533. The Supreme Court observed 11 that its cases prior to the enactment of § 1151 had “relied upon a 12 finding of both a federal set aside and federal superintendence [to] 13 conclud[e] that the Indian lands in question constituted Indian We do not view the Supreme Court’s reference to “land . . . occupied by an ‘Indian community’ ” as requiring actual Indian residency, as the plaintiffs suggest. Venetie, 522 U.S. at 531 (emphasis added). Rather, as discussed more fully below, we view the federal set aside requirement as described in Venetie as requiring only that the federal government has set aside the land for tribal use in order to further tribal interests. 13 42 1 country and that it was permissible for the Federal Government to 2 exercise jurisdiction over them.” Id. at 530. The Court’s definition of 3 “dependent Indian communities” in Venetie was “based on [its] 4 conclusion that in enacting § 1151, Congress codified these two 5 requirements, which previously . . . [were] held necessary for a 6 finding of ‘Indian country’ generally.” Id. at 527. 7 Venetie involved an effort by the Native Village of Venetie’s 8 tribal government to impose taxes upon non members of the tribe 9 who were conducting business on tribally owned land. See id. at 525. 10 The land had been acquired pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims 11 Settlement Act (“ANCSA”), 43 U.S.C. §§ 1601–1629h. See Venetie, 522 12 U.S. at 524. Under the ANCSA, Congress revoked reservation status 13 for land that had been set aside for the tribe, provided $962.5 million 14 in state and federal funds to newly created, state chartered, private 15 corporations owned by tribal members, and authorized the transfer 16 of former reservation lands in fee simple to the private corporations. 43 1 Id. The tribe acquired title to former reservation land after it was 2 transferred to the private corporations. Id. Alaska challenged the 3 tribe’s authority to impose a tax on non members conducting 4 business on that land. Id. at 525. The district court held that the tribe 5 lacked such authority, finding that ANCSA lands were not 6 “dependent Indian communities” under 18 U.S.C. § 1151. Venetie, 7 522 U.S. at 525. 8 The Supreme Court agreed, concluding that neither the 9 federal set aside nor the federal superintendence requirement was 10 met. Federal set aside was absent because ANCSA “transferred 11 reservation lands to private, state chartered Native corporations, 12 without any restraints on alienation or significant use restrictions, 13 and with the goal of avoiding ‘any permanent racially defined 14 institutions, rights, privileges, or obligations.’” Id. at 532–33 (quoting 15 43 U.S.C. § 1601(b)). Thus, “[b]y ANCSA’s very design, Native 16 corporations c[ould] immediately convey former reservation lands 44 1 to non Natives, and such corporations [were] not restricted to using 2 those lands for Indian purposes.” Id. at 533. 3 As to the superintendence requirement, the Court concluded 4 that ANCSA had “ended federal superintendence over the Tribe’s 5 lands.” Id. (emphasis added). The Court observed that “ANCSA 6 revoked the Venetie Reservation . . . and Congress stated explicitly 7 that ANCSA’s settlement provisions were intended to avoid a 8 ‘lengthy wardship or trusteeship.’” Id. (quoting 43 U.S.C § 1601(b)). 9 It also noted that “Congress conveyed ANCSA lands to state 10 chartered and state regulated private business corporations,” which 11 was “hardly a choice that comports with a desire to retain federal 12 superintendence over the land.” Id. at 534. The Court distinguished 13 the federal government’s remaining protection of the land—which 14 was “essentially limited to a statutory declaration that the land [was] 15 exempt from adverse possession claims, real property taxes, and 16 certain judgments as long as it has not been sold, leased, or 45 1 developed”—from the federal involvement that existed in the 2 Supreme Court’s prior cases where superintendence was found; in 3 those cases, “the Federal Government actively controlled the lands 4 in question, effectively acting as a guardian for the Indians.” Id. at 5 533. 6 We agree with the Tenth Circuit that “[s]imply put, Venetie 7 held that Congress—not the courts, not the states, not the Indian 8 tribes—gets to say what land is Indian country subject to federal 9 jurisdiction.” Hydro Res., Inc. v. E.P.A., 608 F.3d 1131, 1151 (10th Cir. 10 2010) (en banc). In determining whether Congress has designated 11 land as a “dependent Indian community,” we consider whether the 12 land bears the dual marks of federal set aside and federal 13 superintendence. The set aside requirement ensures that the federal 14 government designated the land to serve the interests of an “Indian 15 community”—the tribe qua tribe—while the superintendence 46 1 requirement ensures that the tribe is “dependent” on the federal 2 government in the sense of being subject to federal control. 3 4 We conclude that the Buffalo Parcel satisfies both requirements. 5 First, through the SNSA, Congress demonstrated its intent 6 that lands acquired with SNSA funds that attained restricted fee 7 status pursuant to the SNSA be set aside for the use of the Seneca 8 Nation. Congress limited the lands that the Seneca Nation could 9 purchase using SNSA funds to “[l]and[s] within [the Seneca 10 Nation’s] aboriginal area in the State or situated within or near 11 proximity to former reservation land,” 25 U.S.C. § 1774f(c), reflecting 12 its intent to enable the Seneca Nation to restore some of its lost land 13 base in proximity to land historically occupied by the tribe. Congress 14 also designated these lands for tribal use by directing that the SNSA 15 funds used to purchase them be “managed, invested, and used by 16 the [Seneca] Nation to further specific objectives of the Nation and 47 1 its members, all as determined by the Nation in accordance with the 2 Constitution and laws of the Nation.” Id. § 1774d(b)(1); see id. 3 § 1774f(c). Finally, by creating a mechanism for these lands to attain 4 restricted fee status, Congress ensured that the tribe would maintain 5 ownership of its restricted fee lands, through the restriction that 6 required approval of the federal government before the lands could 7 be transferred. See id. § 177. The set aside requirement is therefore 8 satisfied. See Venetie, 522 U.S. at 528 (observing that the requirements 9 of a dependent Indian community were satisfied in Sandoval where 10 “Congress had recognized the [tribe’s] title to their ancestral lands 11 by statute, . . . Executive orders had reserved additional public lands 12 for the [tribe’s] use[,] . . . [and] Congress had enacted legislation with 13 respect to the lands . . . [that] includ[ed] federal restrictions on the 14 lands’ alienation” (internal quotation marks omitted)). Compare 25 15 U.S.C. §§ 1774d(b)(1), 1774f(c), with Venetie, 522 U.S. at 533 (“Because 16 Congress contemplated that non Natives could own the former 48 1 Venetie Reservation, and because the Tribe is free to use it for non 2 Indian purposes, we must conclude that the federal set aside 3 requirement is not met.”). 4 Second, Congress demonstrated its intent for the Buffalo 5 Parcel to be subject to federal superintendence by providing for 6 federal control in both the process by which the Parcel attained 7 restricted fee status and in limiting the alienability of this land once 8 it attained restricted fee status. The SNSA provides that lands 9 acquired by the Seneca Nation may be made subject to the Non 10 Intercourse Act unless the Secretary decides otherwise. See 25 U.S.C. 11 § 1774f(c). Thus, lands purchased using SNSA funds are not 12 automatically subject to a restriction against alienation. Rather, only 13 after a period of comment by state and local governments and a 14 determination by the Secretary do the lands become subject to the 15 Non Intercourse Act. See id. Land therefore attains restricted fee 16 status only if the Secretary declines to exercise his or her power to 49 1 prevent the land from doing so. In allowing lands to pass into 2 restricted fee status, the Secretary decides to take responsibility for 3 those lands “to prevent unfair, improvident or improper disposition 4 by [the Seneca Nation] . . . [and] to vacate any disposition of their 5 lands made without [the federal government’s] consent.” Tuscarora 6 Indian Nation, 362 U.S. at 119. Once the lands become subject to the 7 Non Intercourse Act, there is no limit on how long the restriction 8 against alienation will remain in effect; the lands continue to be held 9 in restricted fee absent action by the federal government. See 25 10 U.S.C. §§ 177, 1774f(c). Accordingly, by creating this process in the 11 SNSA, Congress demonstrated its intent to “actively control[] the 12 lands in question, effectively acting as a guardian for the [Seneca 13 Nation]”—hallmarks of federal superintendence. Venetie, 522 U.S. at 14 533. Compare 25 U.S.C. § 1774f(c), with Venetie, 522 U.S. at 533–34 15 (holding that in ANCSA Congress ended federal superintendence 16 over the tribe’s lands by revoking the lands’ reservation status, 50 1 conveying the lands to private business corporations, and specifying 2 that the ANCSA’s provisions “were intended to avoid a ‘lengthy 3 wardship or trusteeship’ ” (quoting 43 U.S.C. § 1601(b))). 4 Thus, we conclude that Congress—through the SNSA—set 5 aside the Buffalo Parcel for the Seneca Nation’s use in order to 6 further tribal interests and provided that the Parcel would be subject 7 to federal superintendence. Because these dual requirements are 8 met, the Seneca Nation has jurisdiction over this land, and New 9 York has therefore been divested of its jurisdiction. 10 Congress’s intent that the Buffalo Parcel be subject to the 11 tribe’s jurisdiction is also apparent from the similarities between 12 § 1774f(c) of the SNSA and § 465 of the IRA. The plaintiffs do not 13 dispute that lands that are taken into trust under the IRA are subject 14 to tribal jurisdiction. See City of Sherrill, 544 U.S. at 220–21.14 Such The plaintiffs argue that City of Sherrill holds that the IRA is the sole means for a tribe to establish jurisdiction over off reservation fee lands. In City of Sherrill, the Supreme Court held that the Oneida Indians could not unilaterally revive tribal sovereignty over lands that had been subject to state jurisdiction for over 14 51 1 lands bear the marks of both federal set aside and federal 2 superintendence. See Buzzard v. Okla. Tax Comm’n, 992 F.2d 1073, 3 1076 (10th Cir. 1993); see also Narragansett Indian Tribe of R.I. v. 4 Narragansett Elec. Co., 89 F.3d 908, 920–21 (1st Cir. 1996). For land to 5 attain trust status under the IRA, the Secretary of the Interior must 6 consider, among other things, “the Indian’s need for the land, and 7 the purposes for which the land will be used” and then decide to 8 take the land in trust. Buzzard, 992 F.2d at 1076 (citation omitted); see 9 also 25 C.F.R. §§ 151.2, 151.9, 151.10, 151.11. In doing so, the federal 10 government takes action indicating that the land is designated for 11 Indian use. See Buzzard, 992 F.2d at 1076. The federal set aside 12 requirement is therefore fulfilled. See id. two hundred years. 544 U.S. at 202–03. The Court noted that the tribe had a congressionally authorized avenue available to it to restore jurisdiction—the IRA. See id. at 220–21. But the Supreme Court did not state that this was the only avenue. In the SNSA, Congress provided a mechanism comparable to the IRA through which the Seneca Nation could attain jurisdiction over lands purchased with SNSA funds. Accordingly, the Seneca Nation did not unilaterally assert jurisdiction over the Buffalo Parcel; the land became subject to tribal jurisdiction pursuant to an express act of Congress and approval of the Secretary when she allowed it to pass into restricted fee. 52 1 The federal superintendence requirement is satisfied as well 2 because the federal government is actively involved in the land 3 when it decides to take it in trust. See id. The Secretary considers 4 several factors, including the impact of removing the land from the 5 state tax rolls and the jurisdictional problems that might arise, prior 6 to taking the land in trust. See id. (citing 25 C.F.R. § 151.10). Once the 7 Secretary decides to take the land in trust, the Secretary holds title as 8 trustee, demonstrating that the federal government “is prepared to 9 exert jurisdiction over the land.” Id. 10 The SNSA’s restricted fee mechanism bears analogous marks 11 of federal set aside and federal superintendence, and the obvious 12 similarities between the IRA and the SNSA demonstrate 13 congressional intent for the SNSA to have similar jurisdictional 14 effects. Like the IRA, the SNSA provides the Secretary with 15 discretion to determine whether lands held by tribes in fee should be 16 taken into restricted fee. Compare 25 U.S.C. § 1774f(c), with id. § 465. 53 1 As a critical step in this process, the SNSA requires the Seneca 2 Nation or the Secretary of the Interior to first notify state and local 3 governments of the acquisition of lands under the SNSA. Id. 4 § 1774f(c). Likewise, after a tribe requests trust status under the IRA, 5 the Secretary is directed to notify state and local governments 6 having regulatory jurisdiction over the lands to be acquired. See 25 7 C.F.R. § 151.10. Under both statutes, states and local governments 8 then have a thirty day period after notification to comment. Compare 9 25 U.S.C. § 1774f(c), with 25 C.F.R. § 151.10. Following this comment 10 period, the Secretary has an additional period to determine whether 11 the land should pass into restricted fee (under the SNSA) or be held 12 in trust (under the IRA). Compare 25 U.S.C. § 1774f(c), with 25 C.F.R. 13 §§ 151.11, 151.12. The SNSA, like the IRA, therefore anticipates the 14 jurisdictional tensions between the federal government, the tribe, 15 and the state, and provides the Secretary with discretion, after 16 considering the state’s concerns, to determine the jurisdictional 54 1 ramifications of conferring this new status on the lands. Cf. City of 2 Sherrill, 544 U.S. at 220 (describing the IRA as “a mechanism for the 3 acquisition of lands for tribal communities that takes account of the 4 interests of others with stakes in the area’s governance and well 5 being”). If the Secretary permits the land to pass into restricted fee or 6 to be held in trust, then the land is used for tribal purposes and may 7 not be transferred or disposed of without further action by the 8 Federal Government. See 25 U.S.C. §§ 465, 1774f(c); Cohen’s Handbook 9 § 15.03, 15.07[1]. 10 We recognize that neither the text of the IRA nor that of the 11 SNSA explicitly states that lands that pass from fee to trust or 12 restricted fee status are subject to tribal jurisdiction. The IRA states 13 that lands taken into trust “shall be exempt from State and local 14 taxation.” 25 U.S.C. § 465. In similar language, the SNSA provides 15 that lands may attain restricted fee status after a period of comment 16 on the impact of “removal of such lands from real property tax rolls 55 1 of State political subdivisions.” Id. § 1774f(c). But, “[r]ather than 2 reading the omission of a provision exempting the lands from state 3 regulation as evidencing a congressional intent to allow state 4 regulation,” courts construing the IRA have instead read “the 5 omission as indicating that Congress simply took it for granted that 6 the states were without such power, and that an express provision 7 was unnecessary; i.e., that the exemption was implicit in the grant of 8 trust lands under existing legal principles.” Santa Rosa Band of 9 Indians v. Kings Cty., 532 F.2d 655, 666 n.17 (9th Cir. 1975); see also 10 Chase v. McMasters, 573 F.2d 1011, 1018 (8th Cir. 1978); City of Sault 11 Ste. Marie v. Andrus, 532 F. Supp. 157, 166 (D.D.C. 1980). We 12 conclude that Congress intended this language to be interpreted the 13 same way when used in the context of a closely related Indian law 14 concept—restricted fee—in the SNSA.15 See United States v. Johnson, This reading is also consistent with a long history of courts and Congress treating lands held in trust and those held in restricted fee identically for jurisdictional purposes. In the context of jurisdiction over allotments, the Supreme Court has held that there is no difference between trust lands and 15 56 1 14 F.3d 766, 770 (2d Cir. 1994) (holding that “[t]he fact that Congress 2 chose to adopt . . . substantially identical language [in a new 3 statute] . . . bespeaks an intention to import the established . . . 4 interpretation of [the existing language] into the new statute”); Air 5 Transp. Ass’n of Am. (ATA) v. Prof’l Air Traffic Controllers Org. 6 (PATCO), 667 F.2d 316, 321 (2d Cir. 1981) (stating that courts “can 7 presume that Congress is aware of settled judicial constructions of 8 existing law”). restricted fee lands, observing that “[i]n practical effect, the control of Congress . . . is the same.” United States v. Ramsey, 271 U.S. 467, 471 (1926). Congress has also treated trust lands and restricted fee lands as equally subject to a number of federal controls. See, e.g., 25 U.S.C. §§ 323 (Secretary’s authority to grant rights of way), 407d (Secretary’s authority to charge purchasers of timber for special services), 483a (individual Indian’s power to execute mortgage or trust deed subject to approval by the Secretary), 1321 (limitation on tribe’s ability to consent to state jurisdiction for certain criminal offenses), 1322 (same as to civil jurisdiction). Federal control over restricted fee lands is reflected in the DOI’s implementing regulations as well. See, e.g., 25 C.F.R. § 1.4(a) (“[N]one of the laws, ordinances, codes, resolutions, rules or other regulations of any State or political subdivision thereof limiting, zoning or otherwise governing, regulating, or controlling the use or development of any real or personal property . . . shall be applicable to any such property leased from or held or used under agreement with and belonging to any Indian or Indian tribe, band, or community that is held in trust by the United States or is subject to a restriction against alienation imposed by the United States.”). 57 1 For the foregoing reasons, we hold that Congress intended 2 lands purchased with SNSA funds and held in restricted fee to be 3 subject to the Seneca Nation’s tribal jurisdiction. We therefore affirm 4 the district court’s holding that the Buffalo Parcel is subject to tribal 5 jurisdiction, as required by IGRA. 6 7 III. Whether the Buffalo Parcel is “Indian Lands” under IGRA, 25 U.S.C. § 2703(4)(B) 8 The plaintiffs next argue that the district court erred in 9 upholding the DOI and the NIGC’s conclusion that the Buffalo 10 Parcel is “Indian lands” as defined in IGRA, 25 U.S.C. § 2703(4)(B), 11 another prerequisite for lands to be eligible for gaming. See id. 12 § 2710(d)(1). For non reservation lands, IGRA defines “Indian lands” 13 as “lands [1] title to which is either held in trust by the United States 14 for the benefit of any Indian tribe . . . or held by any Indian tribe . . . 15 subject to restriction by the United States against alienation and [2] 16 over which an Indian tribe exercises governmental power.” Id. 58 1 § 2703(4)(B). Both parties acknowledge that the Seneca Nation holds 2 the Buffalo Parcel in restricted fee. 3 The plaintiffs argue in a footnote of their reply brief that the 4 Buffalo Parcel is not “Indian lands” under IGRA because the Seneca 5 Nation has not exercised governmental power over it. The plaintiffs 6 claim that the Seneca Nation has “at best . . . exercise[d] the 7 trappings of commercial ownership” on this land. Appellants’ Reply 8 Br. at 7 n.6. This is insufficient to raise the argument on appeal. Cf. 9 Gross v. Rell, 585 F.3d 72, 95 (2d Cir. 2009) (“Merely mentioning the 10 relevant issue . . . is not enough; issues not sufficiently argued are in 11 general deemed waived and will not be considered on appeal.” 12 (internal quotation marks omitted)). 13 14 CACGEC III, the NIGC Chairman concluded that the Seneca Nation 15 had exercised governmental power over the Buffalo Parcel since 16 2005 by policing the land with its own Marshal’s Office, fencing the Moreover, in approving the most recent ordinance prior to 59 1 land, posting signs stating that the Buffalo Parcel is subject to the 2 Seneca Nation’s jurisdiction, and enacting ordinances and 3 resolutions applying Seneca law to this land. The plaintiffs did not 4 challenge this aspect of the NIGC’s determination in their complaint 5 in CACGEC III, and they have not cited any authority demonstrating 6 that this determination was arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of 7 discretion, or otherwise in violation of law. Thus, we conclude that 8 the district court did not err in upholding the agencies’ 9 determination that the Buffalo Parcel is “Indian lands” within the 10 meaning of IGRA. 11 12 IV. Whether IGRA Section 20’s Prohibition Applies to the Buffalo Parcel 13 Finally, the plaintiffs argue that, even if the Buffalo Parcel is 14 “Indian lands” and subject to tribal jurisdiction, it is nonetheless 15 ineligible for class III gaming because IGRA Section 20’s prohibition 16 applies. The plaintiffs claim that the district court erred in CACGEC 17 III by accepting the DOI and the NIGC’s conclusion that Section 20 60 1 does not apply to lands held in restricted fee, and thus not to the 2 Buffalo Parcel. The plaintiffs argue that this interpretation was 3 arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of discretion because it 4 undermines congressional intent to limit gaming on lands acquired 5 after IGRA’s enactment. 6 Section 20 prohibits gaming on “lands acquired by the 7 Secretary in trust for the benefit of an Indian tribe after [the date of 8 IGRA’s enactment].” 25 U.S.C. § 2719(a) (emphasis added). The plain 9 text of Section 20 therefore refers only to trust lands acquired by the 10 Secretary, not to lands held in restricted fee by a tribe.16 “When the 11 words of a statute are unambiguous, . . . ‘judicial inquiry is 12 complete.’” Conn. Nat’l Bank v. Germain, 503 U.S. 249, 254 (1992) The statute uses this “trust” language again in enumerating the exceptions to Section 20’s prohibition. See 25 U.S.C. § 2719(b)(1)(B) (“Subsection (a) of this section will not apply when . . . lands are taken into trust as part of—(i) a settlement of a land claim, (ii) the initial reservation of an Indian tribe acknowledged by the Secretary under the Federal acknowledgment process, or (iii) the restoration of lands for an Indian tribe that is restored to Federal recognition.” (emphasis added)). 16 61 1 (quoting Rubin v. United States, 449 U.S. 424, 430 (1981)); see also 2 United States v. Turkette, 452 U.S. 576, 580 (1981). 3 Other principles of statutory construction confirm this plain 4 text reading. The concept of lands being held by the Secretary in 5 trust has a long history and well established meaning in Indian law. 6 See Cohen’s Handbook § 15.03. “It is a cardinal rule of statutory 7 construction that, when Congress employs a term of art, it 8 presumably knows and adopts the cluster of ideas that were 9 attached to each borrowed word in the body of learning from which 10 it is taken.” Air Wis. Airlines Corp. v. Hoeper, 134 S. Ct. 852, 861–62 11 (2014) (internal quotation marks omitted). The terms “trust lands” 12 and “restricted lands” were already defined and distinguished from 13 one another in DOI regulations in effect at the time of IGRA’s 14 enactment. See 25 C.F.R. § 151.2(d), (e); see also Land Acquisitions, 45 15 Fed. Reg. 62,034, 62,036 (Sept. 18, 1980). We presume that Congress 16 was familiar with the regulatory definition of these terms when 62 1 enacting IGRA because Congress is “aware of existing law when it 2 passes legislation.” Miles v. Apex Marine Corp., 498 U.S. 19, 32 (1990). 3 Congress’s awareness of the distinction between trust lands 4 and restricted fee lands is also explicit in the text of IGRA itself. 5 Congress referred both to lands held by the Secretary “in trust” and 6 to lands held “subject to restriction by the United States against 7 alienation” at other points in IGRA, most notably in the definition of 8 “Indian lands.” 25 U.S.C. § 2703(4). “Where Congress includes 9 particular language in one section of a statute but omits it in another 10 section of the same Act, it is generally presumed that Congress acts 11 intentionally and purposely in the disparate inclusion or exclusion.” 12 Russello v. United States, 464 U.S. 16, 23 (1983) (internal quotation 13 marks omitted). We therefore read Section 20’s reference to trust 14 lands, and exclusion of any reference to restricted fee lands, as 15 intentionally confining Section 20’s application to trust lands. 63 1 This interpretation comports with another principle of 2 statutory construction as well: “In construing provisions . . . in 3 which a general statement of policy is qualified by an exception, we 4 usually read the exception narrowly in order to preserve the 5 primary operation of the provision.” Comm’r v. Clark, 489 U.S. 726, 6 739 7 “provid[ing] . . . for the operation of gaming by Indian tribes as a 8 means of promoting tribal economic development, self sufficiency, 9 and strong tribal governments.” 25 U.S.C. § 2702(1). Section 20 is an 10 exception to that general policy. A narrow reading of Section 20 11 therefore accords with Congress’s intent to promote tribal interests 12 through gaming. See Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa 13 Indians v. Office of U.S. Att’y for W. Dist. of Mich., 369 F.3d 960, 971 14 (6th Cir. 2004) (“[T]he only evidence of intent strongly suggests that 15 the thrust of the IGRA is to promote Indian gaming, not to limit it. 16 Although [Section 20] creates a presumptive bar against casino style 17 gaming on Indian lands acquired after the enactment of the IGRA, (1989). In IGRA, Congress 64 embodied its policy of 1 that bar should be construed narrowly . . . in order to be consistent 2 with the purpose of the IGRA, which is to encourage gaming.” 3 (citation omitted)). This reading is also consistent with the 4 congressional policy underlying the SNSA of “promot[ing] 5 economic self sufficiency for the Seneca Nation and its members.” 25 6 U.S.C. § 1774(b)(6). 7 Finally, the Supreme Court has directed that “‘statutes passed 8 for the benefit of dependent Indian tribes are to be liberally 9 construed, doubtful expressions being resolved in favor of the 10 Indians.’” Bryan v. Itasca Cty., 426 U.S. 373, 392 (1976) (quoting Alaska 11 Pac. Fisheries v. United States, 248 U.S. 78, 89 (1918)). The explicit 12 policy underlying IGRA was to benefit tribes by helping them to 13 achieve self sufficiency and to grow economically. See 25 14 U.S.C. § 2702(1). We therefore conclude that because the Buffalo 15 Parcel was not “acquired by the Secretary” and is not held “in trust,” 16 Section 20’s prohibition does not apply. 65 1 The plaintiffs claim that the absence of a reference to 2 restricted fee lands in the text of Section 20 simply reflects that there 3 was no mechanism prior to the SNSA for after acquired lands to 4 attain restricted fee status, and Congress—had it foreseen such a 5 development at the time—would have intended such lands to be 6 subject to Section 20 as well. But we are not permitted to disregard 7 the plain text of the statute or the reading that follows from well 8 established principles of statutory construction. Moreover, Congress 9 was aware of IGRA at the time it enacted the SNSA. Cf. Miles, 498 10 U.S. at 32. When it decided to provide for restricted fee lands, 11 Congress had the power also to prohibit gaming on those lands. 12 Congress could have prohibited gaming in the SNSA itself, as it had 13 done before in other Indian legislation. See, e.g., 25 U.S.C. § 1708(b) 14 (stating, in the Rhode Island Indian Claims Settlement Act, that “for 15 purposes of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act . . . , settlement lands 16 shall not be treated as Indian lands”). Alternatively, Congress could 66 1 have amended Section 20 of IGRA to account for after acquired 2 restricted fee lands at the same time that it enacted the SNSA. 3 Congress, however, chose to do neither. There is therefore no 4 indication that Congress intended lands that pass into restricted fee 5 pursuant to the SNSA to be subject to Section 20 of IGRA. 6 For these reasons, we hold that the Buffalo Parcel is not 7 subject to Section 20’s gaming prohibition. We therefore affirm the 8 district court’s decision in CACGEC III and hold that neither the DOI 9 nor the NIGC acted arbitrarily or capriciously, abused their 10 discretion, or acted in violation of law in concluding that Section 20 11 did not apply to the Buffalo Parcel. Because we uphold the NIGC’s 12 approval of the Seneca Nation’s most recent gaming ordinance, and 13 that ordinance superseded the ordinances at issue in CACGEC I and 14 CACGEC II, we conclude that the appeals and cross appeal17 of those 15 earlier decisions are moot. The defendants cross appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in CACGEC II, including the court’s determination that the “settlement of a land 17 67 1 CONCLUSION 2 The district court in CACGEC III correctly dismissed the 3 plaintiffs’ complaint because the DOI and the NIGC’s determination 4 that the Buffalo Parcel is eligible for class III gaming under IGRA 5 was not arbitrary or capricious, an abuse of discretion, or in 6 violation of law. Congress intended lands that attain restricted fee 7 status under the SNSA to be subject to tribal jurisdiction, as required 8 by IGRA. Finally, IGRA Section 20’s prohibition of gaming on trust 9 lands acquired after IGRA’s enactment does not apply to the Buffalo 10 Parcel. Because the gaming ordinances at issue in CACGEC I and 11 CACGEC II have been superseded by the most recent amended 12 ordinance at issue in CACGEC III, the appeals of CACGEC I and 13 CACGEC II are moot. The court has considered the plaintiffs’ other 14 arguments and found them to be without merit. Accordingly, we claim” exception did not apply to the Buffalo Parcel. The defendants conceded at oral argument that we need not reach this issue if we conclude that Section 20’s prohibition does not apply to restricted fee lands. Because we hold that the Buffalo Parcel is not subject to Section 20, there is no need to address the applicability of the “settlement of a land claim” exception. 68 1 AFFIRM the judgment of the district court in CACGEC III and 2 dismiss the appeals of CACGEC I and CACGEC II. 69