County of Yakima v. Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Indian Nation
United States Supreme Court
502 U.S. 251 (1992)
The General Allotment Act of 1887 (also known as the Dawes Act) marked a shift from the reservation system to a preference for allotting lands to individual Native American tribal members. Ownership of many allotments eventually transferred from Native Americans to non-Indians. The reservation of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Indian Nation (the tribe) (plaintiff) was located almost entirely within Yakima County, Washington (the county) (defendant). Although 80 percent of the reservation lands were still held in trust by the government, the remaining 20 percent was owned in fee by members and nonmembers of the tribe. The county imposed an ad valorem tax on the fee lands, plus an excise tax on the sale of the same lands. The tribe brought an action in federal district court, seeking a declaratory judgment that the county lacked jurisdiction to impose either tax. The court granted summary judgment in favor of the tribe. The court of appeals reversed in part, holding that the ad valorem tax was permissible. The case was then appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Scalia, J.)
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