Bear Praise for Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling on tribal sovereignty

In this news article, Court rules casino lawsuits can be heard in state courts,  Choctaw counsel Bob Rabon is quoted:  “I’ve been representing Indian tribes for 40 years, and this is probably the single most difficult blow for tribal sovereignty that I have ever seen in my career.”  This is great to know.  Perhaps it is a step towards dismantling the “tribal sovereignty” system that has been such a failure.

Tribes operate big casinos that plunder their surrounding communities, generating most of their money from non-tribal members.  Patron disputes and allegations of wrongdoing are ignored by the casino-controlled “tribal gaming commissions.”  Victims of casino wrongdoing are expected to file complaints in the local tribal kangaroo court system.  Local non-tribal law enforcement agencies, though they often have jurisdiction over felonies committed on tribal land, are reluctant to arrest casino employees who commit violent crimes against patrons, often citing the stupidity of ”tribal sovereignty” as a reason for their refusal to do their duty.  “Tribal sovereignty” has been a dismal failure and should be ended.  This court case may be the beginning of the end of “tribal sovereignty.”  I hope so.

More information about the case:  Danny Dye and Pat Dye v. Choctaw Casino of Pocola, Oklahoma and The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma


One Comment

  1. Back in the days when a US citizen could not sue the Post Office if struck by a mail truck, the victim’s Congressman would introduce a Private Law stating that “the laws of the USA to the contrary notwithstanding, this specifically named US citizen may file suit against the government for an injury arising from the motor vehicle accident of such ‘n such day”. This arrangement provided for the continuation of immunity but allowed redress of major injuries.

    Its possible that had the various Indian tribes adopted a similar procedure they would have been more likely to retain the concept of sovereign immunity. The problem is that operating a casino’s motor vehicle in such a fashion really has nothing to do with a sovereign act.

    When claimants are turned away by the tribal courts, there is an increased chance that existing US courts will find something somewhere to seriously erode the sovereign immunity concept.

    So its a good decision and one that the Indian’s brought down upon themselves!

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