Cowlitz Tribe won't stop working on casino despite county threat

Construction continues on the Cowlitz Casino and Entertainment Resort in Washington. Still image from Cowlitz Casino Project

The Cowlitz Tribe won't stop working on its long-awaited casino despite a threat of more litigation from Clark County, Washington.

The county issued a stop work order to the tribe on Friday, The Battle Ground Reflector reported. The county claims construction of a $13.4 million wastewater treatment system at the Cowlitz Casino Project violates a local ordinance.

But Chairman Iyall wasn't worried about the county's stance. “I don’t believe they have jurisdiction,’’ he told the paper.

The tribe is building the treatment system and the casino on a 152-acre site that has already been placed in trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The county is suing the agency in federal court, claiming the acquisition was unlawful as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar.

In the February 2009 ruling, the justices held that the BIA can only place land in trust for tribes that were "under federal jurisdiction" as of 1934. The Cowlitz didn't gain formal federal recognition until 2000.

A federal judge has sided with the BIA but the county and other casino opponents have taken the case to the D.C Circuit Court of Appeals.

Get the Story:
County issues stop work order to Cowlitz Tribe (The Battle Ground Reflector 2/29)
La Center sewer line project to stop short of Cowlitz casino (The Columbian 2/28)

Federal Register Notices:
Proclaiming Certain Lands as Reservation for the Cowlitz Indian Tribe (November 13, 2015)
Land Acquisitions; Cowlitz Indian Tribe (May 8, 2013)

DOI Solicitor Opinion:
M-37029: The Meaning of "Under Federal Jurisdiction" for Purposes of the Indian Reorganization Act (March 12, 2014)

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