State of MI v. Bay Mills Indian Cmty, No. 11-1413 (6th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act allows “Class III gaming activities” (casino gaming) on Indian lands (25 U.S.C. 2710(d)) if the tribe adopts a gaming ordinance approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission and negotiates a “Tribal-State compact.” Bay Mills is a recognized tribe with a reservation in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In 1993, the tribe entered a compact with Michigan. The Gaming Commission approved its gaming ordinance. Bay Mills began operating a casino on its reservation in Chippewa County. In 1997, Congress passed the Michigan Indian Land Claims Settlement Act, which directed Bay Mills to deposit a portion of its settlement funds into a land trust, with earnings to be used for improvements on or acquisition of tribal land; land so acquired “shall be held as Indian lands.” In 2010, Bay Mills used trust earnings to purchase 40 acres in Vanderbilt, more than 100 miles from its reservation, then constructed a small casino on the property (38 electronic machines, expanded to 84). Michigan and another tribe sued, claiming violations of the compact and state law. The district court enjoined Bay Mills from operating the Vanderbilt casino. The Sixth Circuit vacated the injunction. The district court lacked jurisdiction over some claims and tribal sovereign immunity bars others.