The Cowlitz Tribe of Washington waited 26 years for federal recognition and 10 more for approval of its land-into-trust application.
The tribe has to wait even longer to open a casino because the record of decision by the
Bureau of Indian Affairs
is being challenged in court. At issue is whether the Cowlitz were "under federal jurisdiction" in 1934 even though the tribe didn't gain federal status until 2000.
The plaintiffs include local governments and local groups. But the
Confederated Tribes of Grand
Ronde in Oregon, whose federal recognition was restored to Congress in 1983, are also fighting the Cowlitz Casino Resort.
"As the Supreme Court made clear in Carcieri v. Salazar, the term 'now under federal jurisdiction' refers to tribes that were 'under federal jurisdiction' when the statute was enacted in 1934," the Grand Ronde Tribes wrote in a brief, quoting from the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri
"But the [Interior] Department has consistently taken the position that the Cowlitz did not even exist as a tribal entity in 1934, and the Secretary conceded below that the Cowlitz were terminated throughout the twentieth century," the brief continued.
A trial is expected in federal court in Washington, D.C., later this year, McClatchy Newspapers reported. Appeals could tie up the process for a couple more years.
Get the Story:
Even with relaxed casino rules, tribes could face many pitfalls
(McClatchy Newspapers 7/5)
Cowlitz Tribe negotiating gaming agreement with former rival (9/14)