Osage Nation v. Oklahoma, 10th Cir.

by Brad Jolly, Partner
Dec 28, 2007

The 10th Circuit has dismissed the State of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Tax Commission from a lawsuit brought by the Osage Nation to enjoin the state's collection of income tax on members of the Nation. The question in the case involves whether Osage County, which was once the Osage Reservation, constitutes Indian country and precludes Oklahoma's taxation of members' income. Oklahoma currently will only recognize Osage trust land and individual allotments as Indian country. Generally, a state cannot tax the on-reservation income of members living on-reservation.

The Court determined that the 11th Amendment barred the Nation's suit against the state. However, while the Court dismissed the state and the tax commission, the Court recognized that the Eleventh Amendment does not bar suits for injunctive relief against state officials in accordance with the Supreme Court's decision in Ex Parte Young. Thus, the Court remanded the case to the District Court for further proceedings against the individual members of the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

Read the court's opinion here.

© 2007 Brad S. Jolly & Associates, LLC