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State-Tribe Conflicts

Learn about states’ ability to regulate on reservations, federal preemption of state law, and Public Law 280.


I. States’ Ability to Regulate On-Reservation Activity

Regulatory conflicts between states and tribes frequently come to a head over taxation. States can’t impose state income tax on tribe members who live and work exclusively on their reservation. But what about sales tax?

Imagine that an Indian store located on a reservation sold traditional Indian art. If an Indian purchases art from the reservation store, the state can’t impose a state sales tax because states can’t impose sales tax on...