Saginaw Chippewa Tribe vows fight over off-reservation casino

The Saginaw Chippewa Tribe owns and operates the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Photo from Facebook

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians will be facing a formidable opponent as it pursues an off-reservation casino in Michigan.

The Saginaw Chippewa Tribe opposes the $180 million development in Fruitport Township, MLive reported. A spokesperson said the proposal sets a bad precedent for Indian Country.

"This is nothing more than reservation shopping for a more lucrative casino," spokesperson James Nye told MLive. "That is not Indian gaming; it is commercial gaming. We oppose this on principled grounds because it sets a terrible precedent.

The Little River Band is pursuing the casino under the two-part determination provisions of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. If the Bureau of Indian Affairs approves, the state governor will have veto authority over the project.

Little River Band of Ottawa Ogema Larry Romanelli and Tribal Council Speaker Virg Johnson with Bureau of Indian Affairs officials Diane Baker (l) and Diane Rosen (r) at the Bureau of Indian Affairs office in Minneapolis. Photo from Little River Band

The BIA announced the preparation of an environmental impact statement in a notice published in the Federal Register last week. A public meeting will be held October 15 at the Fruitport Middle School auditorium.

The tribe filed its land-into-trust application for the 60-acre site in February. Plans call for a facility with 69,000 square-feet of gaming floor space, 1,700 slot machines, 35 table games, a 220-room hotel, conference and meeting room space, and dining and entertainment options

The site is about 80 miles from the reservation.

Get the Story:
Proposed Muskegon County casino faces opposition from tribe, hurdles, spokesman says (MLive 9/29)

Federal Register Notice:
Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Fruitport Casino Project, Fruitport Township, Muskegon County, Michigan (September 21, 2015)

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