Judge dismisses Gun Lake land-into-trust case
A federal judge today dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the ability of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, also known as the Gun Lake Tribe, to follow the land-into-trust process.

David Patchak, a former official from the town of Wayland, Michigan, sued to block the acquisition of 147 acres for the tribe. He cited the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar, which restricts the land-into-trust process to tribes that were "under federal jurisdiction" when the Indian Reorganization Act was passed in 1934.

The Gun Lake Tribe didn't gain recognition until 1999 and its land-into-trust application wasn't approved until 2005.

Judge Richard Leon in Washington, D.C., did not address that issue. Instead, he determined that Patchak, as a private citizen, lacked standing to challenge the tribe's land-into-trust application.

"Plaintiff is not an Indian, nor does he purport to seek to protect or vindicate the interests of any Indians or Indian tribes. Rather, plaintiff seeks to vindicate only his own environmental and private economic interests," Leon wrote.

"Plaintiff also fails to point to any explicit, or implicit, indication in the IRA or its legislative history that the statute is intended to protect, or benefit, an individual in plaintiffs position," he added.

After winning several rounds of litigation, the Bureau of Indian Affairs acquired the land for the tribe in January. The 147 acres were officially declared a reservation earlier this month.

Get the Story:
Judge tosses out lawsuit attempting to block Wayland Township casino (AP 8/20)

Court Decision:
Patchak v. Salazar (August 20, 2009)

Related Stories:
Gun Lake Tribe still working on casino plans (8/18)
BIA declares reservation for Michigan tribe (8/17)