Judge rejects challenges to Ione Band land-into-trust application

Leaders of the Ione Band of Miwok Indians in California met with the Indian Health Service in December 2014. Photo from IHS

The Ione Band of Miwok Indians in California could be moving forward with a long-delayed casino after two challenges were rejected by a federal judge on Wednesday.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs approved the tribe's land-into-trust application in May 2012. Opponents, including Amador County and a national anti-Indian group, sued and raised the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar.

The February 2009 ruling restricts the land-into-trust process to tribes that were "under federal jurisdiction" as of 1934. Although the Ione Band wasn't placed on the list of federally recognized entities until 1995, the BIA's record of decision (ROD) concluded that the tribe met the test due to interactions dating as far back as the mid-1800s.

"The ROD found the Ione Band met that two-part test for reasons including: the Band’s being a successor in interest to Treaty J in the mid-1800s; efforts to document members of the Band in the early 1900s; efforts to acquire a 40-acre parcel for the Band; failed – but consistent – attempts to complete the acquisition of land for the Ione Band continuing into the 1930s; a petition by the Ione Band again in 1941 to complete the acquisition; beginning in the 1970s, efforts by the California Indian Legal Services to complete a trust acquisition for the Band; the 1972 determination by Commissioner Bruce that federal recognition had been extended to the Ione Band; a 2006 Indian Lands Determination by the Department that the Plymouth Parcels were gaming eligible; and the fact that, in 2011, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia previously recognized the Ione Band’s 'long-standing and continuing governmental relationship with the United States,'" Judge Troy L. Nunley wrote in one of the two decisions.

The tribe has been seeking to build a casino on a 228-acre site near the town of Plymouth in Amador County since 2005. Plans at one point called for a 120,000 square-foot casino with a 250 room hotel and 30,000 square-foot convention facility, according to Analytical Environmental Services, which prepared the environmental impact statement for the project.

Turtle Talk has posted documents from both cases, No Casino in Plymouth v. Jewell and County of Amador v. Dept. of Interior.

Federal Register Notice:
Land Acquisitions; Ione Band of Miwok Indians of California (May 30, 2012)

Related Stories
Lawsuit against Ione Band casino moved to California court (03/29)
County sues DOI for approving Ione Band casino land acquisition (06/29)
Ione Band leader doesn't anticipate casino for a few more years (06/13)
BIA approves land-into-trust application for Ione Band's casino (05/29)
BIA advances another land-into-trust application for casino bid (08/13)
County sues to stop Ione Band casino proposal (03/30)

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