Atkinson Trading Company, Inc. v. Shirley

In Atkinson Trading Co. v. Shirley, 532 U.S. 645 (2001), the Supreme Court invalidated a hotel occupancy tax challenged by a non-Indian who owned a hotel within the borders of the Navajo Reservation. 532 U.S. at 647-48, 659. In doing so, the Court made clear that it has never endorsed Busters broad statement that an Indian tribes jurisdiction to govern the inhabitants of a country is not conditioned or limited by the title to the land which they occupy in it. Id. at 653 n.4. In Atkinson Trading Company, Inc. v. Shirley, 532 U.S. 645 (2001), the Court held that the Navajo Nation lacked authority to impose a hotel occupancy tax on nonmembers who stayed at a hotel located on non-Indian fee land within the tribes reservation. The Court found that because the tax fell on nonmembers on non-tribal land, the main Montana rule applied. As the tax fell within neither the consensual relationship exception nor the political integrity exception, it was invalid. Id. at 659. In Atkinson, the Supreme Court observed that Indian tribes have lost any right of governing every person within their limits except themselves. 532 U.S. at 650. Nevertheless, the Court decided the tribal jurisdiction question on a much narrower basis: that the Tribes sovereignty did not extend to allow taxation of nonmember activities (hotel stays) on nonmember land within a reservation. Id. at 659.