State of Michigan sues Hannahville Indian Community over Gaming Compact

Written by: Matthew Fletcher

Primary Source : Turtle Talk, March 14, 2017.

The State of Michigan has filed a lawsuit against the Hannahville Indian Community.  The State is asserting that the Hannahville Indian Community’s class III gaming compact has expired (the agreement was executed in 1993).

A copy of the complaint is here:Hannahville Complaint

Hannahville’s Class III gaming compact is here: Hannahville Class III Compact

The Hannahville Compact is one of seven tribal-state gaming compacts the State of Michigan executed in 1993 – all for the same term of years.  The State has argued that six of those agreements expired in 2013, but this is the first lawsuit it has filed.

The State’s complaint is likely to be dismissed on the basis of tribal sovereign immunity, but the timing of this lawsuit – just two months into the Trump Administration – may signal a larger effort to appeal to the Federal Government exert pressure on the Michigan tribes who have similar gaming compacts.  It is unclear whether the State intends to file similar lawsuits against the other tribes with 1993 gaming compacts.

My earlier commentary on the 1993 compacts is here and here (which includes a discussion over whether Michigan’s 1993 gaming compacts have expired)

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Matthew Fletcher
Matthew L.M. Fletcher is Professor of Law at Michigan State University College of Law and Director of the Indigenous Law and Policy Center. He is the Chief Justice of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Supreme Court and also sits as an appellate judge for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, the Hoopa Valley Tribe, and the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians. He is a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, located in Peshawbestown, Michigan. In 2010, Professor Fletcher was elected to the American Law Institute.