Tohono O'odham sues for Glendale casino approval
March 25, 2010
PHOENIX - The Tohono O'odham Nation filed a lawsuit Monday in federal court in
Washington, D.C., against the U.S. Interior Department for failing to act on the
tribe's application to expand its reservation. The tribe is asking the court to
force the department to transfer land into federal trust as tribal sovereign
land. It includes 134 acres that it owns near Glendale on which the tribe wants
to build a $500 million casino resort. Federal law allows tribal casinos only on
reservation land with a few exceptions.
A separate federal law authorizes the tribe to add nearly 10,000 acres to its
reservation to replace land flooded in the late 1970s after a dam was built
nearby. Glendale and the tribe disagree whether the second law, known as the
Lands Replacement Act, includes the 134 acres proposed for the casino site.
The Tohono O'odham Nation applied to the Interior Department more than a year
ago to have 134 acres taken into trust. The department's approval is necessary
for the tribe to build their casino there.
In a recent state court case, Glendale won the decision that that a third of the
property was legally annexed by the city and prohibiting that portion of land
from being taken into trust under the Lands Replacement Act.
The Tohono O'odham Nation insists the land was outside the boundaries of a city
and meets the requirements in the Lands Replacement Act. The tribe is suing to
force the Interior Department to act immediately and take a separate portion of
the land into trust.
A statement issued by tribal chairman Ned Norris Jr. said "We have tried very
hard to work with, not against, the Department, but at some point it became
clear that the Department has simply stopped processing the Nation's
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