indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
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...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Homeless students find support in Rapid City (9/16)
Checks from final payment of Cobell settlement put in the mail (9/16)
DOI offers $9.4M for Cobell buy-backs on Umatilla Reservation (9/16)
House takes up bill to address tribal general welfare programs (9/16)
Tribal leaders headed to Capitol Hill to push legislative priorities (9/16)
NMAI hosts symposium on treaties to coincide with new exhibit (9/16)
Witnesses: Hearing on bill to bar Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/16)
Rival tribes spend $13M to block Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/16)
Mark Charles: Trail of Tears sign points to much deeper problem (9/16)
Donna Ennis: Don't let ethnic imposters take away our identity (9/16)
Sen. Cantwell to introduce bill to end NFL's tax-exempt status (9/16)
Mohegan Tribe to open first Smashburger location in December (9/16)
Urban Indian population grows in Brazil's poorest neighborhoods (9/16)
Indian family in Washington continues bid for casino on allotment (9/16)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe challenges NLRB jurisdiction over casino (9/16)
Mohegan Tribe loses bid for commercial casino in Massachusetts (9/16)
Connecticut tribes see another decline in slot machine revenues (9/16)
Tim Giago: Standing tall for Native American Day in South Dakota (9/15)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne man beaten by BIA officer (9/15)
Mark Trahant: Ten reasons why every Native person should vote (9/15)
Jay Daniels: Still waiting on that final Cobell settlement payment (9/15)
Vote set on bill to protect Gun Lake Tribe's casino from litigation (9/15)
HUD settles complaint for couple on Turtle Mountain Reservation (9/15)
Bryan Brewer: Approve HR3043 to stop IRS harassment of tribes (9/15)
Maryann McGovran: Vote for North Fork Rancheria's gaming deal (9/15)
Donna Ennis: Tribal banishments are a form of cultural genocide (9/15)
Steven Newcomb: Political meanings restrict indigenous peoples (9/15)
Bruce Anderson: Washington team name preserves stereotypes (9/15)
Column: DC-area Native people oppose NFL team's racist mascot (9/15)
House set to vote on bill to transfer federal land to Te-Moak Tribe (9/15)
Paskenta Band holds election aimed at resolving council dispute (9/15)
Tribes in Oklahoma raise their minimum wage above federal level (9/15)
Blog: Taos Pueblo exerts sovereignty over health care programs (9/15)
Travel: Remote parks on Navajo Nation are an 'extraordinary find' (9/15)
Petitions submitted to put Tohono O'odham Nation casino to vote (9/15)
Dry Creek Rancheria struggling to see gaming revenues recover (9/15)
Poarch Creeks still open to Class III gaming compact discussion (9/15)
Editorial: Cherokee Nation brings jobs with project next to casino (9/15)
Native Sun News: Olympic medalist visits Pine Ridge Reservation (9/12)
Bryan Brewer: Bill for Native language immersion a high priority (9/12)
Sen. Tester applauds approval of final Cobell settlement payout (9/12)
Kenneth Deer: UN meeting an opportunity for indigenous peoples (9/12)
Judge won't issue injunction in Pojoaque Pueblo compact dispute (9/12)
Ex-manager for Shingle Springs Band's casino told to pay $2.4M (9/12)
Briefs filed in lawsuit over United Keetoowah Band's gaming site (9/12)
Quapaw Tribe expands agricultural program at casino restaurant (9/12)
Judge approves motion to distribute Cobell settlement payment (9/11)
Native Sun News: Final Cobell payment might 'almost' be ready (9/11)
Mark Trahant: Affordable Care Act is worthy of debate in election (9/11)
Gyasi Ross: Support Quechan skate park and self-determination (9/11)
Disaster declared after Moapa Paiute Reservation hit by flooding (9/11)
Brian Pierson: Recent federal court decisions affecting Indian law (9/11)
Navajo Nation presidential candidate a target over fluency issue (9/11)
Northern Arapaho Tribe withdraws from joint Wind River council (9/11)
Editorial: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe trying to make budget work (9/11)
University of Utah creates scholarships for students of Ute Tribe (9/11)
Nez Perce Tribe seeks update to historic trail from 1877 journey (9/11)
Miccosukee Tribe seeks removal of judge in dispute with lawyers (9/11)
Jessica Carro: Native people treated like foreigners in Argentina (9/11)
Peru investigates murders of four prominent indigenous leaders (9/11)
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.