Casino Stalker | Litigation
9th Circuit backs Tohono O'odham Nation land-into-trust bid

The Tohono O'odham Nation is getting closer to its goal of opening an off-reservation casino in Arizona thanks to a decision from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The tribe acquired a total of 135 acres near the city of Glendale in connection with a land claim settlement. The Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Act of 1986 mandates that the land be placed in trust as long as it's in an unincorporated area, the 9th Circuit determined.

"Congress crafted the Gila Bend Act to allow the Nation substantial autonomy in the use of funds and the acquisition of new reservation land," Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote for the majority.

The court also said the tribe is allowed to have up to 9,800 acres placed in trust. Since 1986, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has only approved two applications, including a 54-acre parcel near Glendale.

"The ability to buy land without regard to the cap on trust acreage and then designate the parcels for conversion to trust is well within the 'great flexibility' Congress authorized for the Nation," the decision stated.

The tribe plans to use the land for the West Valley Resort. The Obama administration hasn't made a gaming determination on the land and the 9th Circuit pointed out that it was not ruling on any gaming matters.

9th Circuit Decision:
Glendale v. US (September 11, 2012)

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