Cowlitz Tribe and city reach long-awaited agreement for casino

Members of the Cowlitz Tribe of Washington signed a beam that is going into a $500 million gaming facility on the reservation. Photo from Facebook

The Cowlitz Tribe and the city council in La Center, Washington, finalized a long-awaited casino agreement on February 24.

The tribe will pay $32 million to renovate a highway interchange near the Cowlitz Casino Project. The deal also includes a financial commitment for the city's sewer project and a limited waiver of sovereign immunity.

"The tribe is willing to give back more than we take. Trust the tribe," Vice Chairman Phil Harju said at a city council meeting before the deal was approved, The Battle Ground Reflector reported. A draft copy of the agreement was posted by the city council.

Cowlitz Tribe council member Dave Barnett tore up a "stop work" order issued by Clark County, Washington. Photo from Facebook

The tribe has already begun construction on the $500 million casino but was hit with a "stop work" order from Clark County. Tribal officials have said they won't comply because the county lacks jurisdiction in Indian Country.

The 368,000 square-foot casino will feature 100,000 square-feet of gaming space with 2,500 slots and 80 gaming tables, 15 restaurants, bars and retail outlets and a 2,500-seat meeting and entertainment venue. It's due to open in spring of 2017.

Get the Story:
La Center, Cowlitz Tribe enter into historic agreement (The Battle Ground Reflector 3/2)

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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