indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Landless tribe in limbo due to court fight
Thursday, August 7, 2003

A federal judge won't stop the Department of Interior from taking land into trust for a California tribe that wants to open a casino in the Bay Area.

In a 28-page decision, U.S. District Judge David F. Levi rejected a preliminary injunction sought by a group of card club operators and charities. He said the threat they claimed was not serious enough to stop Secretary of Interior Gale Norton from following a federal law that requires a 10-acre site to be held in trust for the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians.

"In short, none of plaintiffs' arguments establishes that plaintiffs will experience significant hardship if the Secretary takes the land into trust," Levi wrote yesterday.

But the ruling left open a question the plaintiffs have raised in the two-year-old case. Levi said there was not enough information on the record to determine whether the Lytton Band, just one of the many victims of termination, was properly restored its federal status in the 1980s.

Yet there is no guarantee that the tribe's federal recognition will even be an issue, Levi observed. "Neither the parties nor the court has found a single case where a court overturned the federal government's recognition of an Indian tribe," he cautioned.

The decision is the second in a suit prompted by legislation signed into law by former President Bill Clinton as he was leaving office. Known as the Omnibus Indian Advancement of 2000, one provision directs the Interior to take about 10 acres of land into trust for the tribe.

The site is the location of a card club called Casino San Pablo, which the tribe intends to turn into a full-blown Class III casino. It is located in San Pablo, less than 20 miles from downtown San Francisco.

The provision drew considerable controversy because it was inserted without serious Congressional debate. It does not allow the Interior discretion for taking the land into trust, foregoing what is usually a lengthy review and public comment process that can take years to complete.

The bill also "back dates" the land acquisition, freeing the tribe from a stringent requirement of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act that requires federal and state approval, from the governor, before the land is taken into trust.

Still, the way the litigation is proceeding, the casino is far off. Landless as a result of termination, the tribe is currently tied up before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The plaintiffs, which include rivals to Casino San Pablo, are challenging Levi's July 2002 decision that upheld the constitutionality of more than 60 tribal gaming compacts. Yesterday's denial of a preliminary injunction is also appealable.

Even if the land is finally cleared for trust status, there is the issue of a compact. Gov. Gray Davis (D), who is facing a recall election October 7, said he won't negotiate until the tribe obtains land. But he also has voiced opposition to casinos in urban environments.

Officials in San Pablo have embraced the deal, which could temper further political opposition. Democrats and Republicans nationwide have become increasingly critical of what they call "reservation shopping." They say tribes in remote areas are searching for land in better locations only to open casinos.

The Lytton Band has about 250 members. The court's decision notes the tribe's poor economic well-being, a situation that will likely be changed by the casino. "Many of Lytton's members live in economically depressed conditions; 15 percent are homeless, 90 percent do not have health insurance, 40 to 50 percent of the adults are unemployed, and many members experience persistent problems with alcohol abuse, chronic depression, and lack of education," Levi wrote.

Get the Decision:
Artichoke Joe's v. Norton (August 6, 2002

Related Decision:
Artichoke Joe's v. Norton (July 29, 2002)

Relevant Laws:
The Omnibus Indian Advancement Act of 2000 (H.R.5528)

Related Stories:
Battle over urban casino continues (07/30)
Ruling a victory for Calif. tribes (7/30)
Calif. landless tribe faces setback (7/11)
Group challenges California gaming (2/8)
Trust land decision said sneaky (2/5)
Clinton signs a final Indian bill (12/29)

Copyright 2000-2003 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Tim Giago: Remember the victims of massacre at Wounded Knee (12/22)
Native Sun News: Cheyenne River Sioux teen serves as role model (12/22)
Harlan McKosato: It's time to bring Jim Thorpe home to Oklahoma (12/22)
Opinion: A solution for the Washington NFL team's racist mascot (12/22)
Oneida Nation plans to open $20M 'Wizard of Oz'-themed casino (12/22)
Bill to stop Tohono O'odham Nation casino fails to clear Congress (12/22)
Opinion: Tribal and state governments should get out of casinos (12/22)
Editorial: Expansion of gaming pushed as quick fix for New York (12/22)
Native Sun News: Pine Ridge's David Michaud wins fighting match (12/19)
Mark Trahant: Old school budgets a better deal for Indian Country (12/19)
Ruth Hopkins: Boycott a repeat offender of cultural appropriation (12/19)
8th Circuit sides with Omaha Tribe in reservation boundary case (12/19)
BIA finalizes rule to add Alaska tribes to land-into-trust process (12/19)
Obama signs measure to extend VAWA tribal provision to Alaska (12/19)
Wyandotte Nation set to break ground on $1.4M cultural center (12/19)
Man from Standing Rock Sioux Tribe charged for cousin's murder (12/19)
Opponents of Cowlitz Tribe plan appeal of gaming land decision (12/19)
Menominee Nation off-reservation casino supporters hold rally (12/19)
Bear River Band hires tribal member as casino general manager (12/19)
Column: Poarch Creek gaming is only thing working in Alabama (12/19)
Column: Wait for decision on Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino (12/19)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe inaugurates new leadership (12/18)
Walt Lamar: Cooperation helps address crime in Indian Country (12/18)
Brandon Ecoffey: Tournament shows hope of the Lakota people (12/18)
Editorial: Showing caution for marijuana sales in Indian Country (12/18)
Editorial: New York governor makes right call to outlaw fracking (12/18)
Fines for foes of Tohono O'odham Nation off-reservation casino (12/18)
New York passes over tribes for first commercial casino licenses (12/18)
Factions of Cayuga Nation in court over Class II gaming facility (12/18)
Deadline extended for commercial casino eyed by Quapaw Tribe (12/18)
Opinion: Another casino isn't answer to Connecticut's problems (12/18)
Native Sun News: Youth take on lead role in Dakota memorial ride (12/17)
Mark Trahant: NCAI launches new campaign against racist mascot (12/17)
Norm DeWeaver: Job market is a disaster zone in Indian Country (12/17)
Amanda Blackhorse: Fake chiefs and fake headdresses must go (12/17)
DOI makes $9M in buy-back offers on Coeur d'Alene Reservation (12/17)
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.