indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Dynamic Homes
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Appeals court sides with tribe in trust land dispute
Monday, January 9, 2006

A federal appeals court cleared the way for Michigan's newest tribal casino on Friday, rejecting a lawsuit that sought to invalidate a land-into-trust application.

Less than a month after hearing the case, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals delivered victory to the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. Recounting a history of neglect by the federal government, a three-judge panel said the tribe is entitled to acquire trust land and use it to achieve economic self-sufficiency.

"The tribe has determined that the most effective way to generate revenue is to build and operate a gaming resort," wrote Senior Judge Harry T. Edwards in the unanimous opinion.

In the 25-page decision, the court dismissed three challenges raised by Taxpayers of Michigan Against Casinos, or TOMAC. The nonprofit group tied up the tribe's land-into-trust application for more than four years, citing environmental, legal and constitutional concerns.

But now that the court rejected TOMAC's claims as groundless, the tribe can move forward with plans for the $160 million Four Winds Casino Resort. "We have been heard and understood," Pokagon Chairman John Miller said. "The tribe is jubilant."

Michigan is home to more than 20 tribal and non-tribal gaming facilities. At least three tribes, including the Pokagon Band, are hoping to get into the action but no new casinos have been built in several years due to lawsuits filed by non-Indian opposition groups like TOMAC.

Along with other cases, the challenges have forced the Bureau of Indian Affairs to take a tougher look at land-into-trust applications whenever casinos are involved. Due to the heightened scrutiny, final decisions on gaming projects are made by Washington, D.C. bureaucrats who now require tribes to complete and finance costly environmental impact reports.

The climate heated up recently when Jack Abramoff, the disgraced lobbyist who pleaded guilty to defrauding tribes and attempting to bribe a member of Congress, boasted of derailing the expansion of tribal gaming in Michigan. In an e-mail released by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, he claimed that former Interior deputy secretary J. Steven Griles was "committed" to blocking one of the proposed casinos.

Griles denied doing any favors for Abramoff or his wealthy tribal clients -- including the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan -- but the scandal has further tainted how gaming is viewed in Washington. On Thursday, before the court announced its decision, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) called for a two-year moratorium on new casinos, saying lobbyists "exploited" the land-into-trust process.

"Putting a complete halt to new tribal casinos for two years would give us time to get our arms around the process and better understand the problem," Rogers said.

The request was met with criticism from the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, whose land-into-trust application was the target of Abramoff's lobbying. The tribe has sought an investigation of the Griles-Abramoff links but Chairman D.K. Sprague said Rogers' proposal is misplaced.

"A moratorium will do nothing to clean the problems with lobbying and federal abuse, and only promotes the interests of those trying to prevent competition," Sprague said.

The Pokagon decision marks the fourth time this year that a federal appeals court has rejected a land-into-trust challenge. In every case, the courts have said the BIA has handled the applications properly and that the BIA has the legal power to acquire trust lands for tribes.

After decades of waiting, the Pokagon Band was recognized by an act of Congress in 1994. The law required the Interior Department to restore a land base for the tribe, a provision that was upheld in the court decision on Friday.

Get the Decision:
TOMAC v. Norton (January 6, 2006)

Relevant Links:
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians - http://www.pokagon.com

Related Stories:
Michigan tribe questions land-into-trust delay (01/05)
Appeals court hears Pokagon Potawatomi casino case (12/09)
Michigan tribe not worried about industry changes (10/04)
Tribal leader wants probe of Griles-Abramoff links (08/31)
Abramoff tried to hire Griles at lobbying firm (8/29)
Traffi crime a concern for Nottawaseppi casino (08/25)
BIA holds public hearing on Nottawaseppi casino (08/24)
Michigan tribe wants to intervene in casino case (07/29)
Lawsuit planned over Michigan tribe's casino (06/13)
Michigan tribe ready to hire for disputed casino (06/02)
Pokagon Band predicts win on land-into-trust appeal (05/25)
Michigan group files appeal of land-into-trust case (05/24)
Michigan tribe pushes for compact negotiations (05/17)
GOP congressman introduces anti-Indian gaming bill (05/13)
Michigan governor ready to negotiate compact (04/22)
BIA takes land into trust for Michigan tribe's casino (04/20)
Michigan tribe scores victory in casino land case (03/29)
Editorial: Ruling for Michigan casino not good news (03/29)
Michigan tribes pleased with action over compacts (02/23)
Supreme Court turns down gaming compact case (02/22)
Michigan governor surprised by anti-compact vote (12/16)
Michigan court considers tribal compact dispute (12/14)
Michigan Supreme Court upholds gaming pacts (08/02)
Mich. tribe clears hurdle for $100M casino project (03/24)
Mich. tribe's casino plans scuttled by lawsuits (03/15)
Mich. tribe's casino plans scuttled by lawsuits (03/15)

Copyright 2000-2005 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News Today: Tribal group advocates for Indian health (3/30)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Native people are still searching for equality (3/30)
Cronkite News: Tribes pushing for renewal of key diabetes funding (3/30)
Cronkite News: Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act is back on the agenda (3/30)
Iggiagruk Hensley: An Inupiaq perspective on the history of Alaska (3/30)
Sarah Sunshine Manning: Genocide tactics stay in our communities (3/30)
Ak-Chin Indian Community sues to enforce water rights settlement (3/30)
Agua Caliente Band sees challenge to landmark water rights ruling (3/30)
Cherokee Nation moves ahead with plan to put casino at new site (3/30)
Secretary Zinke confirms role in talking to tribes about border wall (3/29)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approves five bills at meeting (3/29)
Native Sun News Today: City aims to keep Native homeless safe (3/29)
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: Indians still don't matter in South Dakota (3/29)
Ray Cook: Unity lost after #NoDAPL camps close in North Dakota (3/29)
Northern Cheyenne Tribe sues Interior Department for coal policy (3/29)
Blackfeet Nation students enjoy surprise visit by Michelle Obama (3/29)
Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women hosts summit (3/29)
Cherokee Nation donates a record $5M to public school districts (3/29)
Authorities investigate remains uncovered on Crow Reservation (3/29)
Little River Band breaks ground on $170M housing development (3/29)
Mohegan Tribe enters partnership with celebrity barbecue chef (3/29)
Judge holds UPS liable for transporting Indian tobacco products (3/29)
Airline pays $1.3M to compensate tribe for plane crash in Brazil (3/29)
Choctaw Nation opens doors to travel center and gaming facility (3/29)
Non-Indian casino in Massachusetts hits construction milestone (3/29)
Trump boasts about approvals for Dakota Access and Keystone XL (3/28)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe acknowledges 'setback' in pipeline war (3/28)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe continues to battle pipeline in court (3/28)
Judge orders removal of gas pipeline on Indian land in Oklahoma (3/28)
Stockbridge-Munsee leader delivers tribal address in Wisconsin (3/28)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Peacemaking in the era of Donald Trump (3/28)
Native Sun News Today: Trump purge fails to affect South Dakota (3/28)
Victor Swallow: When the Air Force bomber crashed at Pine Ridge (3/28)
Charles Kader: Courts close their doors to unrecognized groups (3/28)
Whiteclay liquor licenses under review amid outcry in Nebraska (3/28)
Cowlitz Tribe brings Michael Jordan's Steakhouse to new casino (3/28)
Sycuan Band starts work on $226M expansion of gaming facility (3/28)
Seminole Tribe accuses state of breaking gaming compact again (3/28)
Colville Tribes hail 'historic victory' on aboriginal hunting rights (3/27)
Dakota Access confirms pipeline about to go into service with oil (3/27)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.