Indiana lawmakers ask Congress to stop Pokagon Band casino

John Warren, at podium, serves as chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. Photo from Facebook

Lawmakers in Indiana are still looking for ways to stop the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians from opening a casino in the state.

A new bill, Senate Concurrent Resolution 54, has a simple purpose. It asks Congress to declare that "reservations and restored Indian lands within Indiana" are not eligible for gaming.

“What’s going on in northern Indiana has the potential to bring harm to the state of Indiana financially,“ Sen. Carlin Yoder (R), the sponsor of the resolution, said at a Senate Rules Committee meeting on Monday, WNDU reported.

The committee voted 11 to 1 to approve the measure. But even if it moves forward, it's not likely to have much of an effect in Washington, D.C., because it would either require an amendment to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, changes to the Section 20 regulations issued by the Bureau of Indian Affairs or an amendment to the law that restored the tribe to federal recognition.

This image shows Alternative A for the land-into-trust site in South Bend, Indiana. No plans have been approved as of yet. Image from Pokagon EIS

The tribe nonetheless condemned the measure as another sign of "the government of Indiana not understanding the Pokagon Band’s tribal sovereignty and the federal government’s trust responsibility to Indian nations," WNDU reported.

"The tribe would prefer to move forward by working with state officials on the restoration of Pokagon lands in Indiana," the tribe said, WNDU reported.

The tribe has submitted a land-into-trust application to the BIA to use 166 acres in South Bend for a casino, hotel and other development. There is no timeline for a decision but lawmakers from regions with non-Indian gaming facilities have raised alarms about the potential competition.

Some lawmakers are claiming the tribe was not planning a casino in Indiana when it gained federal recognition through an act of Congress in 1994. But the law does not contain any gaming prohibitions or any restrictions on land acquisitions in Indiana or Michigan, where three casinos are already in operation.

Get the Story:
Ind. Senate resolution asks Congress to stop Pokagon casino (WNDU 4/27)

Federal Register Notices:
Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Fee-to-Trust Transfer for Tribal Village and Casino, City of South Bend, St. Joseph County, Indiana (March 12, 2015)
Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Pokagon Band Tribal Village Fee-to-Trust Acquisition and Casino Project in the City of South Bend, St. Joseph County, IN (August 24, 2012)

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