Progress on Stockbridge-Munsee off-reservation casino bid

The Stockbridge Munsee Band of Mohican Indians of Wisconsin is seeing progress on its New York off-reservation casino.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is publishing notice of a final environmental impact statement in tomorrow's issue of the Federal Register. The document identifies a 350,000 square-foot gaming facility in the Catskills region as the preferred alternative.

However, the BIA is far from a final decision on the tribe's land-into-trust application for the 330-acre site The tribe filed requests under the Indian Reorganization Act and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the forthcoming notice states.

"The preferred alternative does not necessarily reflect the [Interior] Department’s final decision because the department must further evaluate all of the criteria" under its land-into-trust regulations, the notice states. "The department’s consideration and analysis of the applicable regulations may lead to a final decision that selects an alternative other than the preferred alternative, including no action, or a variant of the preferred alternative or another one of the alternatives analyzed in the FEIS."

The Bush administration rejected the proposal in 2008 under a controversial guidance memorandum that made it virtually impossible for tribes to acquire land away from existing reservations. The Obama administration rescinded the policy, which was developed without prior public notice or tribal consultation.

Forthcoming Federal Register Notice:
Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Fee-to-Trust Conveyance of Property and Casino Project for the Stockbridge-Munsee Community, Wisconsin in the Town of Thompson, Sullivan County, New York (To Be Published January 31, 2014)

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