indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
The Rise of Tribes and the Fall of Federal Indian Law
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Michigan tribe wins gaming rights case
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Filed Under: Law | National

A Michigan tribe whose casino was threatened by a bureaucratic blunder won its case against the federal government on Friday.

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians spent $41 million on the Kewadin Shores Casino in order to replace an aging facility with health and safety problems. But the National Indian Gaming Commission said the site in the city of St. Ignace did not qualify for gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Facing economic uncertainty, the tribe took the government to court and won a preliminary injunction that allowed the casino to open for the busy Labor Day weekend in 2007. A year later, a federal judge rewarded the tribe with a final decision that upholds the legality of the site.

In the 37-page ruling, Judge R. Allan Edgar said the government "dropped the ball" by failing to resolve a bureaucratic blunder dating to 1986 that would have prevented the litigation altogether. He said the casino site qualifies for gaming because it is "contiguous" to an existing reservation, as allowed by IGRA.

"Defendants appear to ignore any case law that discusses the meaning of reservation in any context and instead rely on their own inability to make a decision on a timely request for a proclamation as evidence of the lack of merit of the request," Edgar wrote.

IGRA generally bars gaming on land taken into trust after 1988 unless certain exceptions are met. The Kewadin Shores site was acquired in 2000, well past the IGRA deadline.

The tribe argued that the site qualifies because it is contiguous to land that was placed in trust 1983, long before the passage of IGRA. The tribe even asked the Bureau of Indian Affairs for a proclamation to declare the 1983 parcel a reservation in 1986, two years before IGRA became law.

Despite the history, the NIGC issued a series of opinions that said the 1983 site was not a reservation. Attorneys from the Interior Department weighed in and said the only way for the 1983 site to be considered a reservation was for the BIA to formally declare it to be one.

The government's stance meant the 2000 parcel could not be used for gaming without going through an additional, lengthy review process that only three tribes have completed in the history of IGRA.

But Edgar said the BIA's inaction shouldn't be held against the tribe. He said ambiguities in the definition of "reservation" tipped the case in the tribe's favor.

Edgar noted that the BIA's recent IGRA regulations appear to bring some certainty to the issue. The Section 20 rules, however, were finalized long after the tribe applied for its reservation proclamation, he said.

As a result, "this court must review the defendants' actions at the time of the decision, not in hindsight," Edgar wrote.

A similar case involving the Fort Sill Apache Tribe of Oklahoma is pending in federal court. The tribe asked the BIA for a reservation proclamation for land held in trust in New Mexico.

The BIA failed to act on the proclamation even as the tribe moved forward with plans for a gaming facility. A judge has so far declined to force the BIA to make a decision.

Court Decisions:
Final Judgement (August 29, 2008) | Preliminary Injunction (August 28, 2007)

Court Documents:
Magistrate's Report (July 23, 2007) | Government's Objections (August 6, 2007)

DOI Documents:
NIGC Opinion (February 14, 2006) | David Bernhardt Letter (July 26, 2006) | NIGC Opinion (July 31, 2006) | NIGC Final Decision (September 1, 2006) | Carl Artman Letter (December 8, 2006) George Skibine Testimony (June 13, 2007)

Related Stories:
Judge won't force BIA to act on Fort Sill Apache site (8/8)
NIGC cites 'broken promises' in ruling against casino (5/22)
Artman issues gaming rules as he leaves BIA ofice (5/20)
Michigan tribe set to open casino after court victory (8/29)
Gaming rules behind schedule, BIA head confirms (8/13)
Judge hits BIA on Chickasaw Nation gaming site (7/19)
Judge orders Indian land determination on casino (7/18)
House panel takes up land-into-trust, recognition bills (6/14)
BIA continues work on gaming land regulation (12/04)
Another GAO report looks at land-into-trust (10/25)
GAO finds lengthy delays on land-into-trust (8/28)
Legislation won't address all land-into-trust issues (04/05)
Off-reservation casino sites still in question (3/16)
BIA sets timetable for new gaming regulations (03/01)
Senate panel presses BIA on gaming regulations (02/02)
BIA takes stab at land-into-trust for gaming rules (2/1)



Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Gathering scheduled in June at site of former BIA insane asylum (4/29)
Native Sun News: Tribal college student overcomes challenges (4/29)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Ancestors are gone but language lives on (4/29)
Mike Rounds: Eliminate 'hateful' and 'paternalistic' federal laws (4/29)
Harlan McKosato: White privilege fuels Donald Trump's fanbase (4/29)
Indian Health Service faulted for lengthy waits for patient care (4/29)
Mescalero Apache woman to compete for Miss United States (4/29)
Environmental Protection Agency pays little to tribes for spill (4/29)
Measure to declare bison as official mammal ready for Obama (4/29)
John Wayne's negative views about tribes resurface in debate (4/29)
Chumash Tribe picks Kenneth Kahn as first new leader in years (4/29)
Mille Lacs Band announces upgrades as casino marks 25 years (4/29)
Timbisha Shoshone Tribe sees warmer reception to casino bid (4/29)
Florida racks up legal bills in gaming fight with Seminole Tribe (4/29)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe sues Indian Health Service over shutdown (4/28)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee approves eight bills at meeting (4/28)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe to debut justice center (4/28)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne official fired from tribal job (4/28)
Native Sun News: Comments sought on Black Hills mine cleanup (4/28)
Editorial: Native Sun News endorses Hillary Clinton for president (4/28)
Cronkite News: EPA slammed for response to Gold King Mine spill (4/28)
Steve Russell: Donald Trump advisor accuses tribes of terror plot (4/28)
Alex Jacobs: Hillary Clinton must answer to role in Honduras coup (4/28)
Northwest tribes inch closer to reburial of Kennewick Man remains (4/28)
Santee Sioux Tribe hosts task force to address substance abuse (4/28)
Huge crowds flock to New Mexico for annual Gathering of Nations (4/28)
Muckleshoot Tribe to host $50K 'Gold Cup' for Indian relay racing (4/28)
Member of Puyallup Tribe develops 'Teepee' tribal directory app (4/28)
Man in long fight with Shingle Springs Band faces longer sentence (4/28)
Tunica-Biloxi Tribe enters gaming agreement with Mohegan Tribe (4/28)
Timbisha Shoshone Tribe sees casino as a path to self-sufficiency (4/28)
Forest County Potawatomi Tribe announces another hire at casino (4/28)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe welcomes rejection of rival casino bid (4/28)
Senate passes measure to include Indian Country in tourism plans (4/27)
Amanda Blackhorse to deliver commencement speech at Haskell (4/27)
Native Sun News: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe aims to stop pipeline (4/27)
Lakota Country Times: Pine Ridge artist gains national recognition (4/27)
Brandon Ecoffey: 'Bull Dawg' represents the Oglala Lakota Nation (4/27)
Mark Trahant: Tribes endorse Native candidates for US Congress (4/27)
John Thune: Tribal citizens suffer with Indian Health Service care (4/27)
Cronkite News: Tribes support more protections at Grand Canyon (4/27)
Gabe Galanda: A moral responsibility to stop tribal disenrollment (4/27)
Vernice Moncooyea Willis: Bernie Sanders deserves our support (4/27)
Jennifer Denetdale: University must stop celebrating genocide (4/27)
Eastern Cherokee group hails Tribal Marijuana Sovereignty Act (4/27)
Leader of Fort Peck Tribes blames baby's death on drug abuse (4/27)
Chippewa Cree Tribe and FBI investigate theft of drugs at clinic (4/27)
Former comptroller of Crow Tribe accused of embezzling $28K (4/27)
Congress set to pass bill to declare bison as national mammal (4/27)
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton moving closer to nominations (4/27)
Fond du Lac Band won't confirm plan for site adjacent to casino (4/27)
Graton Rancheria on track to complete $175M casino expansion (4/27)
Pokagon Band to debut casino expansion project by end of year (4/27)
Connecticut tribes delay decision on potential casino until 2017 (4/27)
Oregon Lottery official fired as Lewis and Clark ads come down (4/27)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.