Opponents take Cowlitz Tribe gaming land dispute to DC Circuit

Artist's rendering of the proposed Cowlitz Casino Resort. Image from Cowlitz Indian Tribe Environmental Impact Statement

Opponents of the Cowlitz Tribe of Washington have taken their gaming case to the D.C Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in neighboring Oregon and local opponents are trying to stop the tribe from building the Cowlitz Casino Resort. Their primary issue is the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar.

The ruling limits the land-into-trust process to tribes that were "under federal jurisdiction" as of 1934. The Cowlitz didn't gain federal recognition until 2000.

The justices, however, didn't define the meaning of the phrase "under federal jurisdiction" so the Bureau of Indian Affairs has come up with a test as it reviews land-into-trust applications. The Cowlitz Tribe passed the test, a decision upheld by Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein in a 57-page ruling in December.

Briefs in the appeal will be filed this year. An attorney for the city of Vancouver, which opposes the casino, believes a hearing might take place in November.

Future appeals could go to the Supreme Court.

Get the Story:
Latest Cowlitz casino decision appealed (The Columbian 2/4)

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