Russell Bryan (plaintiff) was a member of the Chippewa Tribe who lived on a reservation in Itasca County, Minnesota (defendant). In 1972, Bryan received a notice from Itasca County claiming that Bryan owed personal property taxes on the mobile home in which he lived. Bryan sued Itasca County in district court, seeking declaratory judgment that federal law preempted imposition of the Minnesota tax on personal property located on the reservation. The district court upheld the tax and entered judgment for Itasca County. The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Public Law 280, 28 U.S.C. § 1360, empowered states to tax property located on Indian reservations. Bryan sought review, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.