Trump administration given more time for appeal in tribal gaming case

Congratulations to the new Secretary of the Department of Interior Secretary Zinke. Secretary Zinke said to Me, "I am all about Tribal Sovereignty!" Hoka 💯

Posted by Re-Elect Cedric Cromwell, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Chairman on Thursday, March 2, 2017

Chairman Cedric Cromwell on Facebook: 'Congratulations to the new Secretary'

The new Trump administration has been given more time to consider an appeal in a closely-watched tribal gaming case.

Last summer, a federal judge ruled that the Bureau of Indian Affairs acted illegally when it approved a land-into-trust application submitted by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. The Massachusetts-based tribe, whose recognition was finalized in 2007, was not "under federal jurisdiction" in 1934 as required by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar, the judge determined.

The tribe already filed an appeal but the Department of Justice, which is under new leadership, has not yet made the call one way or another. The Trump administration now has until April 27 to decide, according to news reports.

Although anything is possible, it would be unusual if the Trump team did not join the appeal. Just last week, Justice submitted a brief in a very similar land-into-trust case involving the Cowlitz Tribe and its casino in Washington state.

Both cases are based on the BIA's handling of Carcieri since 2009 but the Mashpees lost while the Cowlitz won. And the decisions in both cases were issued with a day of each other, albeit in different federal courts.

If the Mashpees succeed in their appeal, they plan to resume work on the $1 billion First Light Resort and Casino in the city of Taunton in Massachusetts.

The Cowlitz, on the other hand, are only a month away from debuting ilani Casino Resort in Washington.

Read More on the Story:
Fight over Mashpee tribe's land, casino continues in Trump era (The Cape Cod Times 3/14)
Judge Delays Opening Of Appeal On Tribal Land In Trust (CapeNews 3/15)

Federal Court Decisions:
District Court of Massachusetts: Littlefield v. Department of the Interior (July 28, 2016)
D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals: Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon v. Jewell (July 29, 2016)

Supreme Court Decision in Carcieri v. Salazar:
Syllabus | Opinion [Thomas] | Concurrence [Breyer] | Dissent [Stevens] | Concurrence/Dissent [Souter]

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

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