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From: Gabriel S. Galanda, Indian Law in Idaho--what You Should Know, 46-MAR Advocate (Idaho) 10 (March, 2003) (76 Footnotes Omitted)

Over the past decade, the 42 federally-recognized Indian tribes in Washington, Oregon and Idaho have become major players in the local, state and national economies. Northwest tribes are aggressively creating and operating new businesses in the areas of real estate development, banking and finance, media, telecommunications, wholesale and retail trade, tourism, and gaming. Consider these facts:

  • Northwest tribes occupy more than 5.6 million acres of reservation lands in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
  • Washington tribes currently employ nearly 15,000 Indian and non-Indian employees. By comparison, Microsoft employs 20,000 Washingtonians.
  • In 2001, Idaho tribes contributed $50 million to the state's overall economy.
  • Reservation businesses across the country generate $246 million in tax revenue annually for state and local governments, and $4.1 billion in annual tax revenue for the Federal Government.
  • In 2001, national gaming revenues from such tribes as the Tulalip, Warm Springs and Coeur d'Alene exceeded $12 billion.

A corollary to the dramatic increase in tribal economic development is the increased interaction of tribes and non-Indian citizens who seek business, employment, or recreation on Indian reservations. In turn, legal matters between Indian tribes and non-Indians continue to increase.

As Indian law issues now intersect both litigation and transactional practices and virtually every niche of law, every attorney should be cognizant of the general Indian law principles at work and be prepared to answer common Indian law questions. For that reason, I thought it appropriate to share with readers of The Advocate some legal principles that govern relations between Indian tribes and non-Indians in Idaho.

GABRIEL S. GALANDA is an associate with the Seattle-Portland law firm Williams, Kastner & Gibbs, PLLC. He is a descendant of the Nomlaki and Concow Tribes, and an enrolled member of the Round Valley Indian Confederation in Northern California. He serves as President of the Northwest Indian Bar Association and chair-elect of the Washington State Bar Association Indian Law Section.