Harold Monteau: Tribes shouldn't cede sovereignty to state
"I read in a recent news article that a tribe that has been a major fighter for upholding Tribal Sovereignty in many areas of the law had settled its differences with the state regarding liquor sales in its casino/resort and will do so under a state issued license. Several tribes in the State of California have sought and obtained California State Liquor Licenses in the last decade. I’m sure this same scenario has played out with other tribes in many states. Their attorneys may have counseled them that the Supreme Court in Rice v. Rehner opined that tribes must comply with State Liquor Control Laws, including obtaining a State Liquor License. This is an erroneous interpretation of Rice v. Rehner, a U. S. Supreme Court case that addressed the issuance of a Tribal Liquor License to an “individual” rather than to a “tribe”. Unfortunately, this erroneous interpretation is being taught in some law schools. Tribes can, and do, issue their own liquor licenses under Tribal Liquor Control Ordinances. Of course, you should consult your local attorneys, but make them do their homework as to whether the tribe can issue it’s own liquor license.

For decades the Secretary of Interior has had the authority to approve Tribal Liquor Control Ordinances and has done so as recently as April, 2010. The Choctaw Tribe of Oklahoma, the Prairie Band of Pottawatomi and the Colville Confederated Tribes have all recently had their Tribal Liquor Control Ordinances approved by the Secretary and printed in the Federal Register. Under these Ordinances the tribe’s can issue liquor licenses, including to themselves. Licensees must comply with state laws pertaining to the age of patrons and the hours of operations. The Ordinances do not deal with taxation issues that may arise and it is expected that each state and tribe will resolve such issues as between two sovereigns. The Federal Statute under which these Ordinances are authorized is 18 USC 1161, “Application of Indian Liquor Laws“. The statute neither requires a State Liquor License nor requires the collection of any tax. It does authorize the Secretary to approve Tribal Liquor Control Laws which include licensing procedures for licenses issued by the tribe. Typically these Ordinances are approved “ in accordance with 18 USC 1161 as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court in Rice v. Rehner”, a phase found in all of the recently printed Federal Register Notices. 18 USC 1161 has “supremacy” over any laws of the state with regard to liquor sales in Indian Country. The statute is neither a wholesale abrogation of tribal sovereign regulatory authority over liquor sales within its borders nor is it a wholesale adoption of state law, dicta in Rice v. Rehner, notwithstanding."

Get the Story:
Harold Monteau: TRIBES DON’T NEED STATE LIQUOR LICENSE (Pechanga.net. 5/25)

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