United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT AND GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
BENJAMIN H. SETTLE United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on the motion for summary
judgment of Plaintiff Frank's Landing Indian Community
(the “Community”). Dkt. 33. Also before the Court
is the cross-motion for summary judgment of the United States
Department of the Interior (the “Department”),
Sally Jewell, in her official capacity as the Secretary of
the Interior (the “Secretary”), and Lawrence S.
Roberts,  in his official capacity as Assistant
Secretary of the Interior Indian Affairs
“Defendants”). The Court has considered the
pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the
motions and the remainder of the file and, for the reasons
explained below, hereby (1) denies the Community's motion
and (2) grants Defendants' motion.
November 13, 2015, the “Community filed its complaint
against the National Indian Gaming Commission; Jonodev
Chaudhuri, in his official capacity as Chairman of the
National Indian Gaming Commission (the
“Commission”); the Department; the Secretary; and
Roberts. Dkt. 1. The Community seeks injunctive and
declaratory relief that it qualifies as an Indian tribe under
the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, 25 U.S.C. 2701
et. seq. (“IGRA”).
12, 2016, the Commission and the Chairman moved to dismiss
for lack of jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim.
Dkt. 19. On August 15, 2016, the Court granted the Commission
and the Chairman's motion to dismiss. Dkt. 29. In
granting the motion, the Court explained that “the
Community's dispute regarding qualification under the
IGRA as an ‘Indian tribe' is with the Secretary and
not with the NIGC or the Chairman.” Id. at 9.
November 4, 2016, the Community moved for summary judgment.
Dkt. 33. On January 13, 2017, Defendants responded with their
cross-motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 38. On February 10,
2017, the Community replied. Dkt. 39. On March 1, 2017,
Defendants replied. Dkt. 40.
Relevant Statutes and Regulations
passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988 in order to
provide a statutory basis for the operation and regulation of
gaming by Indian tribes.” Seminole Tribe of Fla. v.
Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 48 (1996) (citing 25 U.S.C. §
2702). The IGRA established the NIGC within the Department of
the Interior to oversee and regulate tribal gaming under the
IGRA, see 25 U.S.C. §§ 2702(3), 2704(a),
2706(b), and to take enforcement actions for violations of
the statute. Id. § 2713. The NIGC is made up of
a Chairman and two Commissioners, each of whom serves on a
full-time basis for a three-year term.
the IGRA, “[a]n Indian tribe may engage in, or license
and regulate, class II gaming on Indian lands within such
tribe's jurisdiction, if - the governing body of the
Indian tribe adopts an ordinance or resolution which is
approved by the Chairman.” 25 U.S.C. § 2710(b)(1).
The IGRA defines “Indian tribe” as:
(5) . . . any Indian tribe, band, nation, or
other organized group or community of Indians which-
(A) is recognized as eligible by the
Secretary for the special programs and services provided by
the United States to Indians because of their status as
(B) is recognized as possessing powers of
* * *
(10) The term “Secretary” means
the Secretary of the Interior.
25 U.S.C. § 2703. Similarly, under the federal
regulations promulgated by the Secretary for administration
of the IGRA:
tribe means any Indian tribe, band, nation, or other
organized group or community of Indians that the Secretary
(a) Eligible for the special programs and services provided
by the United States to Indians because of their status as
(b) Having powers of self-government.
25 C.F.R. § 502.13.
1994, Congress enacted the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe
List Act (the “List Act”), Pub. L. No. 103-454
(1994) (codified at 25 U.S.C. §§ 5130, 5131), which
purposes of this title:
(1) The term “Secretary” means
the Secretary of the Interior.
(2) The term “Indian tribe”
means any Indian or Alaska Native tribe, band, nation,
pueblo, village or community that the Secretary of the
Interior acknowledges to exist as an Indian tribe.
25 U.S.C. § 5130 (formerly § 479a). The List Act
also requires the Secretary to publish and maintain a list of
recognized “Indian tribes, ” stating:
(a) Publication of list The Secretary shall
publish in the Federal Register a list of all Indian tribes
which the Secretary recognizes to be eligible for the special
programs and services provided by the United States to
Indians because of their status as Indians.
(b) Frequency of publication The list shall
be published within 60 days of November 2, 1994, and annually
on or before every ...