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Supreme Court ruling hurts La Center casino project

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March 11, 2009

LA CENTER, WA - Last week's Supreme court ruling will affect the hopes of the Cowlitz Tribe to build a casino complex near La Center, Washington.
The court found the federal government does not have the authority to transfer tribal lands into trust if the tribe was not recognized in 1934 per the Indian Reorganization Act enacted that year.

The Cowlitz were federally recognized in 2000. They are a landless tribe that has applied to the U.S. Department of Interior to transfer 152 into trust for a reservation and a $510 million mega casino. Their application is pending with the Interior Department's Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Philip Harju, vice chairman of the Cowlitz Tribe, made a preliminary comment "We've just received the decision and have not fully digested it.
(but) we're confident it's going to happen."

The Cowlitz are partnering with the Mohegan Tribe of Wisconsin on the project. The Mohegans were recognized in 1934 an will develop and manage the casino for the first seven years.

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