Chehalis Tribes v. Thurston Cnty., No. 10-35642 (9th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
The Tribe and CTGW brought suit against the County for imposing property taxes on the Great Wolf Lodge located on the Grand Mound Property, which was tribal land held in trust by the government. At issue was whether state and local governments have the power to tax permanent improvements built on non-reservation land owned by the United States and held in trust for an Indian tribe. The court concluded that Mescalero Apache Tribe v. Jones made it clear that where the United States owns land covered by 21 U.S.C. 465, and holds it in trust for the use of a tribe, section 465 exempts permanent improvements on that land from state and local taxation. Accordingly, under Mescalero, the County was barred from taxing the Great Wolf Lodge during the time in which the Grand Mound Property was owned by the United States and held in trust under section 465. Therefore, the district court erred in granting summary judgment to the County.