The Chickasaw Nation owns and operates The Riverstar Casino in Terral, Oklahoma. Photo: The Riverstar Casino

Comanche Nation heads to court to battle Chickasaw Nation casino

The Comanche Nation is heading to court next week in hopes of derailing a rival casino that has already opened its doors near the Oklahoma border with Texas.

The Comanches say they weren't adequately consulted before the Bureau of Indian Affairs, on the last full day of the Obama administration in January 2017, approved a land-into-trust application for Chickasaw Nation. The decision enabled the Chickasaws to open RiverStar Casino in Terral, just a few miles from the state line.

“I think it is the greatest economic fraud visited upon the Plains tribes since the allotment period of the late 19th Century,” Richard Grellner, an attorney for the Comanches, told POLITICO. “I don’t like the word fraud but fraud is what it was. I think their economic opportunity was taken away.”

Indianz.Com published the deed for the Chickasaw Nation's acquisition shortly after the BIA made the decision. But the official notice wasn't made public until July of 2017.

"The record shows the Chickasaw broke ground at Terral in May 2017, some three months after the land was taken into trust, and two months before any notice appeared in the Federal Register," the Comanche Nation wrote in an opening brief to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case is before the 10th Circuit after a federal judge rebuffed the Comanches. The decision said the tribe was unlikely to succeed on the merits of its claim against the federal government.

The Trump administration has not wavered from the Obama-era approval of the Chickasaw Nation application. A brief filed by the Department of Justice in April said the BIA took public comment and engaged in all the consultation required under the law.

“Everything we have done is lawful,” Stephen Greetham, senior counsel for the Chickasaw Nation, told POLITICO. “And more importantly was the act of a tribal government acting within its own sovereign boundaries.”

The Chickasaws are not named as a defendant in the lawsuit and can't be included without their consent due to sovereign immunity. The tribe has not attempted to intervene either.

The 10th Circuit will hear arguments in Denver, Colorado, on September 26. The case is before a panel of three judges: Carlos F. Lucero, Monroe G. McKay and Scott M. Matheson, Jr.

The RiverStar Casino opened on March 1. The facility is part of the Chickasaw Nation's large gaming empire -- the tribe owns more casinos than any other in Oklahoma or in the United States.

Read More on the Story
Feds accused of stacking deck for Chickasaw gaming empire (POLITICO September 18, 2018)

Federal Register Notices
Land Acquisitions; The Chickasaw Nation [Terral Site] (July 18, 2017)
Land Acquisitions; The Chickasaw Nation [Willis Site] (July 18, 2017)

Briefs from Turtle Talk

Comanche Nation Opening Brief

Federal Government Answer Brief

More from Comanche Nation v. Zinke

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