Bruce R. Greene has devoted his practice to all aspects of Federal Indian law, with special emphasis on treaty hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering rights, and Indian gaming matters. Mr. Greene’s work in the field of treaty rights has included the establishment, through litigation, of off-reservation treaty reserved commercial fishing rights on the Great Lakes, of subsistence hunting and fishing rights on inland areas in Michigan, and the allocation of treaty reserved fishing rights among the western Washington tribes which were signatories to the Stevens treaties in the 1850s.
Mr. Greene has represented numerous tribes around the country in all aspects of Indian gaming. His clients have included the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Sisulaw Indians, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, the White Mountain Apache Tribe, the Forest County Potawatomi Indian Community, the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, and the Navajo Nation. Those matters concerned applications for trust designation of newly acquired lands for gaming purposes, scope of gaming issues with regard to tribal-state gaming compacts, negotiations of tribal-state gaming compacts in Michigan, Wisconsin, Washington and Oregon, casino management contract issues, and development agreements for casino complexes. Mr. Greene handled federal court litigation on behalf of certain Wisconsin, Michigan, and Washington Indian tribes that successfully concluded in tribal/state gaming compacts in those states.
On behalf of his tribal client, he was lead counsel in negotiations with the State of Michigan and most of its tribes, which lead to an omnibus tax agreement under which the State and the tribes shared in the collection of numerous State taxes. He successfully negotiated a development agreement with the City of Detroit in connection with a State licensed gaming facility owned by one of Mr. Greene’s tribal clients. In addition, Mr. Greene has been immersed in the federal acknowledgment process for an unrecognized tribe in the eastern United States, and litigated acknowledgment issues before the Department of the Interior.
Throughout his career, Mr. Greene has handled or been exposed to virtually every aspect of federal Indian law affecting Native American Indian tribes. He has successfully litigated numerous cases in federal district courts around the country, and argued many cases in the various United States courts of appeal, as well as handling matters in the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Greene is a frequent lecturer at various law schools, as well as at numerous professional conferences. In 2008, Mr. Greene was awarded the Tecumseh Peacekeeping Award, by the State Bar of Michigan, for his lifetime achievements and dedicated service to protecting the rights of American Indians.
Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community, __U.S. __, 134 S. Ct. 2024 (2014). — Successfully represented the Bay Mills Indian Community in a dispute with the State of Michigan over whether the Tribe could use special federal funds to purchase lands which would be eligible Indian lands for gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act ("IGRA"). The Supreme Court upheld the Tribe's sovereign immunity, and rejected the State's contention that it could sue the Tribe under a provision of IGRA. This was the first case before the Robert's Court where an Indian tribe prevailed on a matter raising an important principle of federal Indian Law.
State ex rel. Dewberry v. Kitzhaber, 259 Or. App. 389, 313 P.3d 1135 (2013), review denied 354 Or. 838, 325 P.3d 739 (2014). — The same group of local citizens who challenged in federal court the Governor’s authority to sign a gaming compact with the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians, and lost, raised a similar challenge in State Court. This time, they also lost in the Circuit Court of Lane County, Oregon, and in the Oregon Court of Appeals. The Oregon Supreme Court, in 2014, denied a petition by the local citizens group to hear the case, leaving the Court of Appeals affirmance in place, and assuring the Tribe that its casino could continue to operate
Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians v. United States, 576 F. Supp. 2d 838 (W.D. Mich. 2008) — Successfully overturned a decision by the U.S. Department of the Interior that a certain parcel of trust land was not eligible for gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. District Court held the lands were contiguous to the tribe’s reservation and, therefore, were eligible for gaming. The tribe had already constructed a $41 million gaming facility on the land before the Interior Department had issued its adverse ruling. The United States declined to appeal the District Court’s decision.
United States v. Michigan, 471 F. Supp. 192 (W.D. Mich. 1979), on remand, 623 F.2d 488 (6th Cir. 1981), aff’d, 653 F.2d 277 (6th Cir.) cert. denied, 454 U.S. 1124 (1981). — Treaty fishing case concerning Chippewas' off-reservation treaty fishing rights in approximately half of Lakes Superior and Michigan and one-fifth of Lake Huron. District Court ruled in favor of the tribes; the United States Court of Appeals affirmed and the Supreme Court declined to grant the State’s request to hear the case, thereby leaving the treaty rights in tact