California | Casino Stalker | Litigation | NIGC
Mechoopda Tribe weighs move after losing gaming land decision

The Mechoopda Tribe of California is considering its next move after the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals put a halt to its gaming plans.

The tribe wants to build a casino on a 645-acre site in Butte County. The Bush administration agreed to place the land in trust in May 2008.

But the D.C. Circuit said the Bureau of Indian Affairs did not fully consider a county-submitted report that questioned whether the tribe had connections to the site. The court vacated the approval of the land-into-trust application so the government will have to review it again.

Attorney Nick Yost said the tribe is weighing its options, which could include a request for the entire D.C. Circuit to rehear the case. Or the tribe could wait for the BIA to make a new decision.

"We also think the merits are on the tribe's side," Yost told The Chico Enterprise-Record. "Whether we have vindicate those merits in front of the whole court or in front of the Interior Department, we'll do it."

The tribe was terminated by an act of Congress but sued to regain its federal recognition. The National Indian Gaming Commission issued an Indian lands determination that said the tribe qualified for a "restored" lands exception in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The determination came in March 2003 but it took the Bush administration another five years to make a decision on the land-into-trust application. The county's report was submitted in June 2006.

The Obama administration listed the Mechoopda project on its recent list of casino land-into-trust applications approved since 1988.

Get the Story:
County wins split decision in ruling over Mechoopda casino (The Chico Enterprise-Record 7/14)
Proposed tribal casino near Chico suffers legal setback (The Fresno Bee 7/14)

D.C. Circuit Decision:
Butte County v. Hogen (July 13, 2010)

Related Stories:
DC Circuit reverses land-into-trust decision for Mechoopda Tribe (7/13)
County waits for ruling in case against Mechoopda Tribe casino (6/28)
County to appeal ruling on Mechoopda casino (5/13)
Judge dismisses lawsuit against Mechoopda casino (4/15)