Will the Supreme Court Use Bay Mills Case to Blow Up Tribal Sovereignty?


As regular visitors to this site and other Indian country media outlets no doubt have seen in recent weeks, Native nation leaders, tribal attorneys, and federal Indian law practitioners alike are gravely concerned about a case currently pending before the Supreme Court: State of Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community.

The case involves the Bay Mills Indian Community, a federally recognized tribe located not far from the U.S.-Canadian border in northern Michigan. In November 2010, Bay Mills opened a gaming facility about 125 miles south of its reservation on a small parcel of property it had recently purchased. Situated along an interstate highway, the facility was located just 35 miles from a casino owned and operated by the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (LTBBO). Bay Mills’ decision to open the gaming facility caught both LTBBO and the State of Michigan by surprise, as Bay Mills Indian Community decision-makers had not followed the usual formal process of putting the off-reservation land into trust before opening the facility...

Resource Type

Seelau, Ryan & Ian Record. "Will the Supreme Court Use Bay Mills Case to Blow Up Tribal Sovereignty?" Indian Country Today Media Network. November 5, 2013. Opinion. (https://ictnews.org/archive/will-the-supreme-court-use..., accessed February 23, 2023)

Related Resources

Thumbnail or cover image
Implications of the Supreme Court's Embrace of Negative Stereotypes

The issues surrounding Native stereotypes should not be dismissed or diminished as merely "surface" problems. "Indian" stereotypes go to the core of the legal, political and economic struggles that Indigenous peoples confront in their work to preserve and strengthen their respective cultures and…

The Bay Mills Case: An Opportunity for Native Nations

On May 27th, the U.S. Supreme Court finally handed down its decision in the Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community case. The good news for Native nations is that the Court upheld the doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity, opting not to carry out any of the doomsday scenarios many suggested could…

Indian Country Today Article

In the first part of this two-part series, we provided a short history of the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case State of Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community, discussed its relevance to the sustainability of the legal doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity, and detailed two potential outcomes of…