Litigation | Openings & Closings

Cowlitz Tribe thanks Secretary Zinke as casino opening approaches

A sneak peek inside the building… We can’t wait for you to see it soon!

Posted by ilani on Sunday, April 2, 2017

ilani on Facebook: 'Sneak Peak'

The Cowlitz Tribe is taking a well-earned victory lap as it prepares to open a long-awaited casino in Washington.

The ilani Casino Resort is due to open by the end of the month. The facility is located on a 152-acre reservation that is the first permanent home of the Cowlitz people in more than a century.

"The Cowlitz Indian Tribe because it marks the end of a 160-year journey back to our homeland, and the beginning of a new journey, where centuries of Cowlitz Tribal heritage and traditions will unite and thrive, here, on our own reservation," Chairman Bill Iyall said in a statement on Monday. "The Cowlitz, The Forever People, are forever home."

Iyall made his statement after the U.S. Supreme Court put an end to a lawsuit that challenged the status of the reservation. Although the dispute began more than a decade ago, during the George W. Bush era, and continued through the presidency of Barack Obama, the tribe thanked Secretary Ryan Zinke, the new leader of the Department of the Interior, for his "continued support."

"He has continued to carry the torch in defense of our lands -- an effort that has now carried through three presidential administrations," Iyall said.

The lawsuit was known as Citizens Against Reservation Shopping v. Zinke. It was filed by opponents of the forthcoming casino who unsuccessfully argued that the tribe could not follow the land-into-trust process because it was not "under federal jurisdiction" in 1934 and was not "recognized" in 1934.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs concluded otherwise. Although the tribe's federal recognition application wasn't approved until 2000, the BIA said a slew of actions, including treaty negotiations and land allotments, confirmed that the Cowlitz people could restore its homelands.

The federal courts agreed with the BIA's approach but opponents made one last attempt to revive the dispute. The Supreme Court rejected their petition on Monday morning.

Also Today:
Indian Country secures victory with end to long-running land case (4/3)

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