Massachusetts v. Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah)

853 F.3d 618 (2017)

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Massachusetts v. Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah)

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
853 F.3d 618 (2017)

Facts

In 1987, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (tribe) (defendant) acquired land under a settlement agreement with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (state) (plaintiff). The terms of the settlement agreement were codified by a federal act (the federal act) that applied the state’s laws to the land, including laws regulating bingo and games of chance. The following year, Congress enacted the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), which provided tribes with regulatory control over gaming activities on tribal lands. The tribe invoked IGRA in constructing a gaming facility on the settlement land. The state brought suit for declaratory judgment stating that IGRA did not apply to the settlement lands, nor did it repeal the federal act granting regulatory control to the state. The tribe argued that it met the threshold requirements for IGRA to apply because it had jurisdiction and exercised governmental power over the lands. Specifically, it established a housing program in conjunction with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a healthcare clinic with the Indian Health Service, a tribal court and judge, education and public-safety programs, and an intergovernmental agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The tribe also passed numerous ordinances governing building codes, health, safety, and natural resources. The district court concluded that the tribe failed to exercise sufficient government power over the lands and that, regardless, IGRA did not repeal the state’s authority over gaming on the settlement lands. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the state. The tribe appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Torruella, J.)

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