Native American Affairs

Client and Industry Challenges

Snell & Wilmer attorneys have been significantly involved in legal issues involving Native American tribes and land throughout the United States for over 75 years. We understand that Native American tribes and the businesses they work with face unique challenges and opportunities, including issues involving sovereign immunity; cultural and natural resource and environmental protections; financing and developing hotels, retail centers, casinos and other types of infrastructure and utilities; and a wide range of state and federal regulatory concerns.

Clients We Serve

Snell & Wilmer has represented numerous Native American tribes, tribal organizations and Native American-owned enterprises located throughout the country. We have also represented casinos and gaming organizations, resorts and recreational businesses, development and management companies, financiers, gaming vendors and others doing business on Native American lands.

Why Clients Select Us

Respect and Commitment: We understand and respect the complex history, issues and evolving federal, state and tribal laws and policies that affect Indian tribes and the businesses with whom they work. We know that every tribal government and every region of Indian country is different. We strive to offer solutions tailored to the legal needs of each of our clients.

Dynamic, Comprehensive Service: With more than 450 attorneys practicing in 15 locations throughout the United States and in Mexico, we have the depth and breadth of experience necessary to offer our clients a dynamic range of services that are sensitive to the complex and often subtle differences in tribal and state laws and regulations. Our Native American affairs attorneys regularly call on the diverse talents and experience of their colleagues to effectively and efficiently handle complex matters involving, for example, tribal business and finance, cultural resource and environmental issues, government relations, land use and development, energy and utility, gaming, water, and federal and state tax issues.


Snell & Wilmer's Native American affairs practice is an interdisciplinary mix of attorneys with experience in Native American law and in numerous other areas including litigation, gaming law, utility law, natural resources, water law, general business, agri-business, real estate, condemnation, rights of way, legislation, regulatory agencies, construction, telecommunications, taxation, finance, employment law, gaming law and environmental law. Examples include:

  • Negotiation and counseling in the areas of federal law that deal with economic development, private and public financing, acquisition of business entities, tribal water rights, land and boundary claims, development of tribal business organizations, gaming, commercial leasing, development of tribal codes, ordinances and regulations, tribal courts, tax issues, and drafting and advocacy of federal and state legislation
  • Administrative matters involving, among other agencies, the Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the National Indian Gaming Commission, and state and tribal regulatory authorities (including licensing and compliance issues)
  • Negotiating and preparing casino management contracts and collateral agreements under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act
  • Environmental, agricultural, water, mineral and other natural resource matters
  • Operation and development of tribal utility organizations, and interface with public utilities on Indian lands
  • Litigation in state, tribal and federal courts
  • Structuring and documenting credit facilities secured by gaming assets, natural resources or leasehold property
  • Developing and documenting joint ventures and leases between tribes, tribal enterprises and their developers
  • Pro bono representation of Native Americans and Native American interests, including support of Native American economic development and self-sufficiency programs