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Oklahoma Tribe Suing Feds Over Casino Land

They waited and waited and waited. Once their patience ran out, they decided to sue. On Tuesday, the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Interior, also naming Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in the suit. According to the lawsuit, the government has delayed doing something they are required to do, take land into trust so the tribe can build a casino.

Billy Friend, chief of the Wyandotte, said that “we felt like we were patient,” but eventually they had “no recourse but to take action against the department.” Before a casino can be built on the land in Park City, Kansas, the Interior Department has to take the land into trust. The Wyandotte’s land-in-trust application spent three years at a regional office in Oklahoma before being passed on to the main office in Washington. Since January 2009, it has been sitting at the Interior Department awaiting Salazar’s approval.

The Wyandotte tribe purchased the land with land-claim settlement funds resulting from a 1984 law that reimbursed them for land the government took from them in Ohio in 1843. According to the tribe, because they bought the land with those settlement funds, the federal government has no choice but to take the land into trust and allow a casino.

“They have an obligation to take the land into trust and have failed their responsibility.” Five and a half years is a long time to wait for a response, so the tribe is understandably out of patience. The Interior Department now has 60 days to respond to the lawsuit. A similar case happened in Glendale, Arizona, where the Tohono O’odham Nation purchased land, asked it to be taken into trust and got no response. Then four months after suing the department, the land was taken into trust. The Wyandotte hope this case follows suit.

Tags: Kansas gambling, tribal casino

Categories: Casino, Gambling News
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