OCTOBER TERM, 1991
certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit
No. 90-408. Argued November 5, 1991—Decided January 14, 1992*
Yakima County, Washington, imposes an ad valorem levy on taxable real property within its jurisdiction and an excise tax on sales of such land. The county proceeded to foreclose on various properties for which these taxes were past due, including certain fee-patented lands held by the Yakima Indian Nation or its members on the Tribe's reservation within the county. Contending that federal law prohibited the imposition or collection of the taxes on such lands, the Tribe filed suit for declaratory and injunctive relief and was awarded summary judgment by the District Court. The Court of Appeals agreed that the excise tax was impermissible, but held that the ad valorem tax would be impermissible only if it would have a " 'demonstrably serious' " impact on the Tribe's " 'political integrity, economic security or . . . health and welfare' " (quoting Brendale v. Confederated Tribes and Bands of Yakima Nation, 492 U. S. 408, 431 (opinion of White, J.)), and remanded to the District Court for that determination.
Held: The Indian General Allotment Act of 1887 permits Yakima County to impose an ad valorem tax on reservation land patented in fee pursuant to the Act and owned by reservation Indians or the Yakima Indian Nation itself, but does not allow the county to enforce its excise tax on sales of such land. Pp. 257-270. (a) As the Court held in Goudy v. Meath, 203 U. S. 146, 149, the Indian General Allotment Act authorizes taxation of fee-patented land. This determination was explicitly confirmed in a 1906 amendment to the Act, known as the Burke Act, which includes a proviso authorizing the Secretary of the Interior, "whenever . . . satisfied that any [Indian] allottee is competent . . . [,] to . . . issu[e] to such allottee a patent in fee simple," and provides that "thereafter all restrictions as to . . . taxation of said land shall be removed." (Emphasis added.) Thus, the Indian General Allotment Act contains the unmistakably clear expression of intent that
*Together with No. 90-577, Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Indian Nation v. County of Yakima et al., also on certiorari to the same court.
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