The Nooksack Tribe owns and operates the Nooksack Northwood Casino in Lynden, Washington. Still image: Crooked Tooth Productions

Nooksack Tribe told to close casino amid leadership and citizenship feud

The National Indian Gaming Commission has ordered the Nooksack Tribe to close its casino in Washington.

The federal agency hit the tribe with a notice of violation and a closure order on Thursday. Chairman Jonodev O. Chaudhuri said an investigation into the Nooksack Northwood Casino uncovered "numerous violations" of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

“We do not take lightly the issuance of notices of violation and closure orders against tribal gaming operations. We are taking this significant enforcement action only after a complete analysis of the unique circumstances involved, including a full review of the structure of the tribe’s governing and business bodies,” Chaudhuri, who is a citizen of the Muscogee Nation, said in a press release.

The tribe has been without a recognized government for more than a year, according to federal agencies. An "illegitimate" council has disenrolled nearly 300 people from the rolls and has failed to conduct orderly elections, the Trump administration said in defense to a lawsuit filed by the disputed faction.

Chairman Bob Kelley has repeatedly defended the tribe's actions. A federal judge has confirmed the federal government's refusal to recognize his leadership.

The tribe faces fines of up to $50,276 every day for each violation. There are four listed in the NIGC's order.

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