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Supreme Court of the United States
February 22, 2022, Argued; June 15, 2022, Decided
Justice Gorsuch delivered the opinion of the Court.
] Native American Tribes possess “inherent sovereign authority over their members and territories.” Oklahoma Tax Comm’n v. Citizen Band Potawatomi Tribe of Okla., 498 U. S. 505, 509, 111 S. Ct. 905, 112 L. Ed. 2d 1112 (1991). Under our Constitution, treaties, and laws, Congress too bears vital responsibilities in the field of tribal affairs. See, e.g., United States [**229] v. Lara, 541 U. S. 193, 200, 124 S. Ct. 1628, 158 L. Ed. 2d 420 (2004). [***9] From time to time, Congress has exercised its authority to allow state law to apply on tribal lands where it otherwise would not. See Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez, 436 U. S. 49, 60, 98 S. Ct. 1670, 56 L. Ed. 2d 106 (1978); Bryan v. Itasca County, 426 U. S. 373, 392, 96 S. Ct. 2102, 48 L. Ed. 2d 710 (1976); Rice v. Olson, 324 U. S. 786, 789, 65 S. Ct. 989, 89 L. Ed. 1367 (1945). In this case, Texas contends that Congress expressly ordained that all of its gaming laws should be treated as surrogate federal law enforceable on the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Reservation. In the end, however, we find no evidence Congress endowed state law with anything like the power Texas claims.
The Ysleta del Sur Pueblo is one of three federally recognized Indian Tribes in Texas. Its reservation lies near El Paso, and the Tribe today includes over 4,000 enrolled members. See About Us, Ysleta del Sur Pueblo (June 2022), https://www.ysletadelsurpueblo.org/about-us. The Tribe traces its roots back to the 1680 Pueblo Revolt against the Spanish in New Mexico. In the revolt’s aftermath, the Spanish retreated from Santa Fe to El Paso, and a large number of Ysleta Pueblo Indians accompanied them. S. Rep. No. 100-90, p. 6 (1987) (Senate Report); W. Timmons, El Paso 18 (1990) (Timmons). Soon, tribal members built the Ysleta Mission, the oldest church in Texas, and in 1751 Spain granted 23,000 acres to the Tribe for its homeland. See Senate Report 6-7; [***10] Timmons 36.
Things changed for the Tribe after Texas gained statehood in 1845. The State disregarded Spain’s land grant and began incorporating a town on tribal lands and issuing land patents to non-Indians. Senate Report 6-7. Over the years that followed, the Tribe repeatedly lost lands “without recompense.” Timmons 181. Yet some tribal members remained on parts of their homeland, “determin[ed] to preserve [their] language, customs, and traditions.” Ibid. In the late 1890s, the Tribe adopted a constitution to ensure “the survival of [its] ancient tribal organization.” Ibid. After years of struggle, the Tribe also won formal recognition from Texas in 1967 and Congress the following year. Id., at 260-261. In its 1968 legislation, Congress assigned its trust responsibilities for the Tribe to Texas. 82 Stat. 93. That trust relationship was important, as it ensured the Tribe would retain the remaining 100 acres of land it possessed and gain access to certain tribal funding programs. See Timmons 261; see also R. Chambers, Judicial Enforcement of the Federal Trust Responsibility to Indians, 27 Stan. L. Rev. 1213, 1233-1234 (1975) (discussing trust obligations).
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142 S. Ct. 1929 *; 213 L. Ed. 2d 221 **; 2022 U.S. LEXIS 2941 ***; 29 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 376; 2022 WL 2135494
YSLETA DEL SUR PUEBLO, ET AL., PETITIONERS v. TEXAS
Notice: The pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.
Prior History: [***1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT
Texas v. Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo, 955 F.3d 408, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 10448, 2020 WL 1638408 (5th Cir. Tex., Apr. 2, 2020)
Disposition: Vacated and remanded.
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