Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law - University of Tulsa College of Law
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Casino Stalker | Litigation
Opponents weigh appeal in Tohono O'odham casino land suit


Opponents of the Tohono O'odham Nation will consider their next steps after losing a major decision in their fight against an off-reservation casino.

The city of Glendale and the Gila River Indian Community sued the Bureau of Indian Affairs for approving a land-into-trust application for the Tohono O'odham Nation. In a split decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the acquisition as legal under a land claim settlement.

The court did not rule on gaming issues but the city and the Gila River Indian Community are already considering an appeal. They could ask for the 9th Circuit to rehear the case en banc or go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The community is analyzing the court’s decision carefully, including the strong and lengthy dissent, and considering all its legal options in these proceedings, including further appeal,” Gila River Indian Gov. Gregory Mendoza told The Phoenix Business Journal.

The Tohono O'odham Nation, meanwhile, celebrated the ruling. The tribe plans to open the West Valley Resort on the newly acquired land

“It’s time for those special interests behind the delay tactics that have held up this project to step aside and allow job growth and economic opportunity to come to the West Valley, where this project has widespread public support," Chairman Ned Norris Jr., said in a statement, according to news reports.

The Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Act of 1986 authorizes the tribe to acquire up to 9,800 acres in trust to compensate for a reservation that was flooded by the federal government. Since 1986, the BIA has only approved two applications in connection with the law, the 9th Circuit pointed out in the decision.

Some members of Congress are trying to amend the law to prevent the tribe from engaging in any form of gaming on newly acquired lands. H.R.2938 passed the House in June.

Get the Story:
Glendale, Gila River Indian Community may appeal casino decision (The Phoenix Business Journal 9/12)
Appeals court to allow tribe to take casino land near Glendale into trust (The Arizona Republic 9/12)
Ruling gives Nation right to reservation (The Glendale Star 9/12)
O'odham win ruling on Phoenix- area casino (Capitol Media Services 9/12)
Appeals court upholds decision on Glendale land being eyed for tribal casino (Cronkite News 9/11)
Tohono O'odham Win Casino Land Dispute (Courthouse News Service 9/11)
Federal appeals court sides with the Tohono O’odham tribe in casino case (The Phoenix Business Journal 9/11)
Reservation status of land near Glendale upheld (AP 9/11)

9th Circuit Decision:
Glendale v. US (September 11, 2012)

Related Stories:
9th Circuit backs Tohono O'odham Nation land-into-trust bid (9/11)