Immunity of Tribal Employees

Is there an immunity of tribal employees ? Under federal law, "Indian tribes have long been recognized as possessing the common-law immunity from suit traditionally enjoyed by sovereign powers." ( Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez, 436 U.S. 49, 58 98 S. Ct. 1670, 1677, 56 L. Ed. 2d 106.) At the same time, the United States Supreme Court has repeatedly stated that tribal immunity generally "does not immunize the individual members of the Tribe." (Puyallup Tribe, Inc. v. Dept. of Game of State of Wash. (1977) 433 U.S. 165, 172 97 S. Ct. 2616, 2621, 53 L. Ed. 2d 667,; accord, Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez, supra, 436 U.S. 49, 59 98 S. Ct. 1670, 1677, 56 L. Ed. 2d 106; See also Oklahoma Tax Comm'n v. Citizen Band of Potawatomi Tribe of Okla.(1991) 498 U.S. 505, 514 111 S. Ct. 905, 112 L. Ed. 2d 1112 "We have never held that individual agents or officers of a tribe are not liable for damages in actions brought by the State".) Lower federal court decisions, however, have extended immunity to "tribal officials" when such officials act "in their official capacity and within their scope of authority." ( United States v. State of Or. (9th Cir. 1981) 657 F.2d 1009, 1012, fn. 8; accord, Hardin v. White Mountain Apache Tribe (9th Cir. 1985) 779 F.2d 476, 479.)