GLENDALE, AZ – The Tohono O'odham Nation has cleared a major hurdle toward
establishing a reservation and a mega-casino complex on 134 acres near Northern
and 95th avenues in Glendale.
The Western Regional Office of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs has
dismissed Glendale's opposition to the plan and will send a recommendation to
Washington, D.C., for officials to review and consider whether a casino meets
the requirements of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
Tohono O'odham Chairman Ned Norris Jr. said he is elated and confident the
tribe's plan meets federal gaming law.
The federal law allows tribes to expand their reservations and casinos when a
land settlement is involved. In 1986 Congress allowed the tribe to acquire 9,880
acres as replacement for reservation land damaged by a federally built dam in
the 1970s. Congress stipulated that the tribe must purchase the land in
unincorporated areas of Pima, Pinal or Maricopa counties. The land acquired by
the Tohono O'odham was unincorporated but now surrounded by the city of
Glendale officials argued the land does not meet the intended requirements
because the land is an unincorporated county island surrounded by the city.
Maricopa County and neighboring Peoria disagree, and both have submitted letters
saying the land was unincorporated.
Retired U.S. Senator Dennis DeConcini, an original co-sponsor of the bill, also
says Glendale's position was wrong. He wrote in an April 30 letter to the U.S.
Department of Interior "For some now to interpret that this legislation included
an additional requirement that replacement lands be isolated (and thus its
economic value diminished) is incorrect."
Glendale’s city attorney, Craig Tindall, is preparing a legal-position paper to
oppose approval by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He said, "The federal
government can't do what they're doing and have no consideration for local
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