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A.B.L.E. Commission Litigation

In 2011, the State of Oklahoma sued the Citizen Potawatomi Nation asserting the CPN had no right to sell alcohol on Sundays at tribal enterprises. Referencing a 2004 gaming compact signed by the CPN, the state of Oklahoma argued that, because the CPN violated conditions of the compact, it could revoke CPN licenses to sell alcohol through the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement (ABLE) Commission. Additionally, the state also demanded the Citizen Potawatomi Nation remit taxes on alcohol sold, arguing that it was improperly compensated.

In response, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation effectively argued that any such attempt by the state to impose itself on the political and economic affairs of a sovereign nation is impossible to justify. It further argued that the state of Oklahoma had no grounds for a lawsuit and that the CPN was under no obligation to pay tax monies. In 2016, independent arbitration ruled in favor of the tribe, stating that the CPN had not waived sovereign immunity when they signed the original 2004 compact, and was confirmed by U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron. The ultimate result was that the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and the state of Oklahoma reached a new agreement altogether regarding sales of alcohol, with the CPN agreeing to remit monies to the state equal to that of other retailer’s sales of alcohol.


Court Case: 

Citizen Potawatomi Nation v. State of Oklahoma

News Articles:

  1. “CPN, State of Oklahoma Reach Agreement on Tax Issue.” Potawatomi.org, December 3, 2018. https://www.potawatomi.org/blog/2018/12/03/cpn-state-of-oklahoma-reach-agreement-on-tax-issue/.
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