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
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
NIGC rules against Okla. tribe's casino in Kansas
Friday, March 26, 2004

An Oklahoma tribe's out-of-state casino has been deemed illegal by the National Indian Gaming Commission.

A 24-page opinion issued through the agency's top lawyer rejected the Wyandotte Nation's right to game in downtown Kansas City, Kansas. The tribe has been operating a Class II facility on on a sliver of trust land since August of last year, citing historical ties to the area.

But NIGC's acting general counsel, Penny Coleman, said the land was taken into trust too late and for the wrong reasons. While acknowledging that the tribe exercises jurisdiction over the Shriner Tract -- a key factor in the analysis -- she invoked the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act's ban on gaming on lands acquired after 1988.

The land, Coleman wrote, does not fall within the tribe's "last reservation," it was not acquired as the result of a land claim and it was not restored when the tribe regained federal recognition in 1978. "Therefore, the tribe may not game on the Shriner Tract pursuant to IGRA," she said in the March 24 opinion. [PDF: 1.3 MB]

Reached at his office in Wyandotte, Oklahoma, Chief Leaford Bearskin said NIGC hadn't informed him of its decision, which was accompanied by a letter addressed to him. "I have no comment until I get notified," he said.

Kansas attorney general Phill Kline, though, took it as a victory in his quest to shut the facility down. "We now call upon the Wyandotte Nation to immediately halt gaming activity on the Shriner Tract and to remove all gaming devices to comply with the decision of the NIGC," he said.

Kline's urgency is natural because the state and its four federally-recognized tribes have fought the Wyandotte Nation's gaming plans for several years. The tribes all operate casinos pursuant to compacts with the state.

But Coleman's long-awaited decision has ripples elsewhere because state officials and politicians nationwide are seeking guidance on whether tribes can operate casinos on lands hundreds of miles away from their current reservations or, in some cases, in other states.

Just as the ruling was finalized, a Bureau of Indian Affairs official raised the issue at a Senate hearing on Wednesday. George Skibine, the acting deputy assistant secretary for policy and economic development, said his agency has found nothing in IGRA to limit gaming to existing tribal lands.

Skibine told the Senate Indian Affairs Committee that "it would definitely be an economic benefit to tribes" to acquire off-reservation or out-of-state lands pursuant to a section of IGRA, known as section 2719, that sets out the requirements for these types of acquisitions. In an interview after the hearing, he stressed that there was "no legislative history" on this issue.

But in the decision, Coleman countered that, "This section of IGRA limits, not expands, the right to game. It is clear that Congress intended to allow some gaming to occur on lands acquired after enactment of IGRA under this provision, but specifically disallowed gaming on newly acquired lands far from the current prior reservation."

Affie Ellis, an NIGC spokesperson, wasn't ready to consider the two statements a conflict. "We want to be consistent with what's in section 2719," she said. The Shriner Tract, she noted, "was acquired into trust in 1996 and did not meet any of the exceptions" laid out in the section.

In the Wyandotte Nation's case, that meant first evaluating whether the tribe has jurisdiction over the parcel. Citing a number of governmental actions, including an agreement with the local government, NIGC concluded the tribe indeed exercises authority.

Second, Coleman considered whether the land was in the tribe's "last recognized reservation within the state within which the tribe is presently located." Since the tribe is "presently located" in Oklahoma, where its headquarters are based, she determined that this exception was not met.

Next, NIGC looked at whether the tribe could satisfy the land claim exception. The tribe did purchase the tract with settlement funds but Coleman said the funds were awarded by the Indian Claims Commission, whose purpose was "to ascertain money damages" -- not award land.

Finally, Coleman examined whether the land qualifies as "restored" since the tribe, after being terminated in 1956, regained federal recognition in 1978. Section 2719 provides an exception for restored tribes.

But the tribe does not meet the test due to the 18-year gap between restoration and the Shriner Tract purchase, Coleman said. While the long wait is not a complete bar, she acknowledged, the fact that the tribe received trust land in Oklahoma in in interim detracted from the tribe's case.

Also, Coleman said the tribe has no "historical nexus" to the land even though tribal ancestors are buried in the cemetery. She argued that the tribe lived in the Kansas City area for less than a decade before being removed to Oklahoma.

Coleman's accompanying letter to Chief Bearskin gave the tribe a week to respond to the opinion. Ellis said the agency would evaluate its next step once the response is received.

Get the Decision:
Legality of Gaming under the IGRA on the Shriner Tract owned by the Wyandotte Tribe (March 24, 2003)

Other Documents:
BIA: Reconsideration on Wyandotte lands (June 12, 2003)

Relevant Links:
Wyandotte Nation of Oklahama - http://www.wyandotte-nation.org/home.html

Related Stories:
BIA issues decision on Wyandotte land in Kan. (07/25)
Column: 'Bad business deal' with tribe (11/12)
Column: 'Bad business deal' with tribe (11/12)
Wyandotte casino agreement approved (11/08)
Bush asked to oppose tribal land bill (10/25)
Casino money donated in Kan. race (10/24)
Kan. tribe blasts casino settlement bill (10/11)
Bill to settle land claim for casino (10/10)
Class action sought on land claim (08/27)
Column: Hostility at land claim forum (08/14)
Forum on Wyandotte lawsuit planned (08/06)
Kan. landowners served with tribe's suit (7/19)
Wyandotte land claim still alive (5/10)
Wyandotte trust land notice clarified (5/9)
In The Hoop: Oops!(5/8)
Wyandotte Nation to remove slots (5/1)
Is Wyandotte chief bluffing on casino? (4/26)
Wyandotte Nation moves on casino (4/18)
Wyandotte Tribe brazen on casino (4/17)
Kansas casino battle continues (4/15)
Okla. tribe brings slots to Kansas (4/12)
McCaleb affirms trust land decision (3/12)
Supreme Court refuses Wyandotte review (1/7)
Congress kills Wyandotte casino project (10/15)
Wyandotte company awarded $100M contract (8/17)
Sides prepare for land claim battle (6/21)
Battle over Kansas casino continues (2/28)
Wyandotte Nation sues over gaming (9/22)
Tribes oppose casino (9/15)

Copyright 2000-2004 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Tribes united against Keystone XL Pipeline (9/19)
Regina Brave: The earth that once was will soon be no more (9/19)
Chelsey Luger and Gyasi Ross: A conversation about suicide (9/19)
Cobell settlement checks being cashed across Indian Country (9/19)
Congress passes measure for tribal general welfare programs (9/19)
Native Sun News: US Senate candidates debate Native issues (9/18)
Cobell settlement checks landing in Indian Country mailboxes (9/18)
Sen. Walsh welcomes arrival of last Cobell settlement payout (9/18)
Rep. Daines praises House action on tribal general welfare bill (9/18)
Winnebago attorney joins BIA as a deputy assistant secretary (9/18)
NWIFC schedules briefing on 'Treaty Rights 101' on Capitol Hill (9/18)
Norbert Hill: It's past time to drop the Washington NFL mascot (9/18)
Peter d'Errico: Connecting mascots to racism and termination (9/18)
Opinion: Eliminating NFL team's racist mascot is just the start (9/18)
Student newspaper punished over refusal to print the R-word (9/18)
Officer investigated for 'drunk uneducated animals' comment (9/18)
9th Circuit rules against Chemehuevi Tribe in land deed case (9/18)
Mashable: Oglala Sioux man still pushing MazaCoin currency (9/18)
City won't allow vote on Tohono O'odham Nation casino plan (9/18)
9th Circuit poses tough questions in Big Lagoon casino case (9/18)
North Fork Rancheria banks on voter approval of casino deal (9/18)
KBIC judge dismisses lawsuit challenging plan for new casino (9/18)
Oneida Nation concerned about location of commercial casino (9/18)
Mashantucket Tribe's gaming executive to resign next month (9/18)
Column: Time for Mohegan Tribe to show its hand over casino (9/18)
Native Sun News: Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe honors veterans (9/17)
Mark Trahant: Is independence in the future for tribal nations? (9/17)
Audio: SCIA takes up bill to bar Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/17)
House approves bill to address tribal general welfare programs (9/17)
House Natural Resources Committee sets markup on tribal bills (9/17)
House subcommittee to hold hearing on bill for Hualapai Tribe (9/17)
9th Circuit takes up Big Lagoon Rancheria gaming land dispute (9/17)
House passes bill to shield Gun Lake Tribe casino from litigation (9/17)
Andre Cramblit: Enjoying life at Dartmouth as a Native student (9/17)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Tribes need to lead climate change reform (9/17)
Sarah Deer wins genius grant for work to protect Native women (9/17)
Tex Hall loses bid for another term as chair of North Dakota tribe (9/17)
Group starts dragging of river in search of missing Native women (9/17)
Appeal filed over Navajo language ability of presidential hopeful (9/17)
Trial delayed for leader of Muscogee Nation accused in theft case (9/17)
Editorial: Pass bill to extend federal recognition to Virginia tribes (9/17)
NLRB reaffirms jurisdiction over Little River Band gaming facility (9/17)
Chumash Tribe to use labor unions for all work on casino project (9/17)
Student arrested over theft at Saginaw Chippewa Tribe's casino (9/17)
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)
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.