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
Meskwaki factions ask court to reopen casino
FRIDAY, JULY 25, 2003

The battle over a shuttered tribal casino in Iowa landed before a federal appeals court on Thursday as the parties faced the the possibility that complete resolution could be months away.

In St. Paul, Minnesota, a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals heard round after round of arguments from different sides in the Meskwaki Tribe case. The federally recognized tribal council, a recently appointed tribal council, the National Indian Gaming Commission and three law firms presented their version of a dispute that has kept the casino, which brings in $3 million a week, closed since late May.

The court is being asked by the tribal factions to reopen the facility and put 1,100 people back to work. The rivals said a federal judge got it wrong when she enforced an NIGC order that cut a significant source of revenue for the tribe.

"There's no dispute that the tribe is suffering irreparable injury," said Dennis Johnson, an attorney for the recognized council headed by Alex Walker Jr. "Their customers have gone to other casinos. Some of them will take years to come back if the casino opens. Some of them never will. Their per capita payments to tribal members depend on this revenue."

"It's a drastic situation," he added.

But a Department of Justice attorney said the actions of NIGC chairman Phil Hogen were justified under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. "The chairman found there was a threat to public safety by operation of this casino by the dissident group," David Shilton told the court.

Weighing in for Homer Bear, the head of the appointed council, was attorney Charles Gribble. He disputed any threat to the casino operation and said the Meskwaki people expressed their will by voting Bear and his supporters into office in a contested election held late May.

The judges grappled with a number of issues as they considered what they could do to remedy the situation. They questioned whether they have the authority to recognize a tribal faction without intruding on tribal sovereignty, their extent of jurisdiction over the NIGC's closure order, and what role the Bureau of Indian Affairs could play.

"If there's ever a case that cried out for settlement, it's this case," said Judge Michael J. Melloy. "But apparently it can't happen for whatever reason."

Johnson argued that the proper solution is for the court to order the Bear faction to relinquish control of all tribal entities and funds, saying that members of the Walker council was operating out of their homes.

"I've attended a number of meetings with Indian people in South Dakota and around the country and the recurring theme is, 'We are separate sovereign nations, keep out of our business,'" responded Judge Roger L. Wollman "Doesn't your request for relief fly in the face of that recurring theme?"

The tribe is supposed to hold a new election October. But when pressed, Johnson said the Walker council would not commit to it.

Gribble argued that IGRA requires a tribe to be in control of a casino, not necessarily a "recognized" tribal council. But the panel, which included Judge Diana E. Murphy, questioned whether Bear's takeover was legal under the Meskwaki tribe's constitution, which places all power in the council and lacks an independent judiciary.

As for the NIGC, the judges questioned why there hasn't been a "final" action by the agency. Although Hogen shut down the casino, the government argues that his decision can't be reviewed by the courts unless the Meskwaki parties exhaust their administrative appeals to the entire three-member commission.

When pressed, Shilton would not commit to a timeline. It could be months before NIGC finalizes its position, the judge reasoned, as they wondered why Hogen didn't take another route in the dispute, such as imposing fines.

In addition to deciding the casino issue, the 8th Circuit is facing the feuding law firms. Dorsey & Whitney has filed a motion to disqualify the BlueDog, Olson & Small firm. BlueDog claims to represent the tribe as a whole, not individual officials such as Walker.

Tribal members voted last month to rescind a contract with Dorsey & Whitney but Walker's council has continued to retain the firm, which has a number of tribal clients.

There is no indication on when the 8th Circuit panel will rule. The court had placed the case on an expedited schedule.

The tribal factions were jockeying for a meeting with acting assistant Aurene Martin and BIA director Terry Virden, who were at the hearing. The BIA continues to recognize the Walker council as the legitimate tribal leadership but the record is conflicting on this point, according to the Bear group.

Relevant Links:
Meskwaki Tribe Litigation, 8th Circuit Court of Appeals - http://www.ca8.uscourts.gov/casino.html

Related Stories:
Meskwaki factions and NIGC head to court on casino (7/24)
Appeals court holding hearing on Meskwaki casino (07/09)
Meskwaki dispute centers on recall petitions (7/7)
Meskwaki faction agrees to create election board (7/3)
Meskwaki faction votes to oust law firm (6/27)
Meskwaki faction says BIA agreed to election (6/23)
DOI meeting with Meskwaki Tribe canceled (6/20)
DOI to discuss Meskwaki leadership dispute (6/19)
Editorial: Don't interfere in tribal affairs (6/19)
Meskwaki faction wants to fire rival law firm (6/10)
8th Circuit court won't reopen Meswaki casino (05/30)
8th Circuit reviewing Meskwaki casino shutdown (5/28)
BIA won't recognize Meskwaki Tribe election (5/27)
Federal marshals close Meskwaki Tribe's casino (5/23)
Meskwaki voters asked to choose new leaders (5/22)
Meskwaki voters urged to vote for new council (5/21)
NIGC asks court to close Meskwaki Tribe's casino (5/20)
Judge calls for receivership for Meskwaki funds (5/19)
Meskwaki casino stays open during leadership spat (5/15)
NIGC orders Meskwaki Tribe to close casino (5/14)
State threatens Meskwaki compact over dispute (5/9)
Meskwaki factions can't agree on discussions (5/8)
Talks between Meskwaki leaders break down (5/6)
Meskwaki Tribe works to resolve dispute (5/5)
NIGC says Meskwaki Tribe in violation of IGRA (5/1)
Meskwaki leadership dispute continues (4/30)
Editorial: NIGC should interfere in tribal dispute (04/24)
NIGC threatens to close Meskwaki Tribe's casino (4/23)
Meskwaki leadership dispute won't affect payroll (4/18)
Federal judge won't intervene in Meskwaki dispute (4/16)
Meskwaki Tribe undergoing leadership struggle (4/10)
Meskwaki tribal council removed and replaced (03/27)

Copyright © 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: Pine Ridge actors make a splash with new film (5/29)
Ernestine Chasing Hawk: Let's change the image of 'Racist City' (5/29)
Miccosukee Tribe joins Native youth announcement at DOI in DC (5/29)
Kurt Luger: It's time to put an end to the Indian wars in America (5/29)
Summer Montileaux: Silence on sexual abuse in Indian Country (5/29)
John Guenther: Protecting Indian children and protecting ICWA (5/29)
Kerry Hawk Lessard: Urban Indians come together in Baltimore (5/29)
Lydia Millet: Selling off sacred Apache land to foreign interests (5/29)
Stuart Delery: Safeguarding voting rights of the first Americans (5/29)
Student from Navajo Nation competes in national spelling bee (5/29)
Navajo Nation to vote on fluency requirements for candidates (5/29)
Cherokee Nation signs hunting and fishing compact with state (5/29)
Onondaga Nation player earns top lacrosse award for 2nd year (5/29)
Wisconsin Supreme Court rules for Oneida Nation in permit case (5/29)
School district in Wisconsin bans clothing with 'Indian' mascots (5/29)
Republican former congressman Dennis Hastert hit with charges (5/29)
Court allows lawsuit against gaming officials of Pechanga Band (5/29)
Another lawsuit seeks to block Jamul Band from $360M casino (5/29)
Bill for one more tribal casino in Connecticut sent to governor (5/29)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe shares another $2.7M in gaming funds (5/29)
Native Sun News: Ex-Rapid City police chief admits erasing tape (5/28)
Omaha Tribe surprised by appeal in reservation boundary case (5/28)
Mary Annette Pember: Historical trauma might affect Native DNA (5/28)
Erik Stegman: Native youth subjected to racism and stereotypes (5/28)
Charges announced in big drug trafficking ring in Indian Country (5/28)
Osage Nation expects to see offers from land buy-back program (5/28)
Voters of Red Cliff Band show support for some uses of marijuana (5/28)
Maine tribes assert sovereignty and sever relationship with state (5/28)
Navajo Nation sees larger numbers of sand dunes on reservation (5/28)
Mille Lacs Band plans public hearing on proposed energy pipeline (5/28)
Michigan tribes warn of disaster from pipeline spill in Great Lakes (5/28)
Coquille Tribe completes acquisition of 3,200 acres of forestland (5/28)
Spiritual leader of Lipan Apache Tribe back in court over feathers (5/28)
Lumbee Tribe to appeal findings of misuse of federal HUD funds (5/28)
Nebraska ends death penalty in historic and close veto override (5/28)
Tohono O'odham Nation chooses new leader amid casino conflict (5/28)
Poarch Creeks file lawsuit over taxes imposed on gaming facility (5/28)
Connecticut tribes counting up votes on bill for one more casino (5/28)
Comanche Nation closed casino for one day to address flooding (5/28)
Native Sun News: EPA hears Native views about uranium mining (5/27)
Renae Yellowhorse: Navajo Nation can't cede power to outsiders (5/27)
Donna Loring: Politicians circle the wagons around Maine tribes (5/27)
David Treuer: Andrew Jackson turned on Cherokee Nation allies (5/27)
NCAI responds to criticism from Rep. Young on land-into-trust (5/27)
Lawsuit challenges constitutionality of Indian Child Welfare Act (5/27)
Hopi Tribe seeks to prevent auction of sacred property in France (5/27)
Indian students face harsh punishment at public schools in Utah (5/27)
Menominee Nation school sees dramatic rise in graduation rate (5/27)
Poarch Creeks planning family-friendly entertainment at project (5/27)
Coquille Tribe names executive at economic development entity (5/27)
Cherokee law students eager for summer work on Indian issues (5/27)
USDA sends $125K to Indian economic development corporation (5/27)
County by Pine Ridge Reservation receives justice service grant (5/27)
Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick to challenge Sen. John McCain in 2016 race (5/27)
Law Article: Indian inmate wins religious rights suit in Wisconsin (5/27)
Alaska Native corporation holds election for five seats on board (5/27)
Blood Tribe combats rise in abuse of extremely dangerous drug (5/27)
First Nations housing program brings just 99 homes to reserves (5/27)
Supreme Court won't hear challenge to Graton Rancheria casino (5/27)
Kialegee Tribal Town given extension to respond in gaming case (5/27)
Quapaw Tribe looks to dispel concerns about casino in Arkansas (5/27)
Pokagon Band faces hurdles in plan to develop casino in Indiana (5/27)
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.