32 tribal casinos statewide … and counting?
While we are waiting for an answer on the Cowlitz casino case from a federal judge in the other Washington, here’s an interesting story that ran in the Seattle Times that has information on the state of casinos statewide.
The story focuses on the Duwamish Tribe’s bid for recognition from the federal government.
“In Washington state, where 23 tribes already operate 32 casinos, the Duwamish are all but locked out of a system that allows either Congress or the Bureau of Indian Affairs to pick the winners and losers and who will get the big-money casinos.”
The Cowlitz Tribe gets a mention in the story as one of two legal cases getting national attention..
In that case, which is being played out in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., sides have agreed that the matter could be settled after cross-motions for summary judgment. The plaintiffs will file a brief explaining why they should win, the defendants will file a brief explaining why they should win, and then each side can respond. If the judge still wants to go on to oral arguments, that’s his prerogative.
The plaintiffs — which include Clark County and the city of Vancouver — have fired the first volley. Here’s a brief excerpt from their June 20 motion:
This case is not about restoring an Indian homeland. It is about reaping a windfall from gambling. For more than a decade, the Cowlitz Tribe’s (the Cowlitz or the Tribe) has worked to have approximately 152 acres of land located near La Center, Washington (Casino Site) acquired in trust for a casino. The Tribe’s desire to develop a casino near La Center, which is less than a half-hour drive from Portland, is understandable. The closer the casino is to a population center, the more money the Tribe can expect to make. But federal law does not permit the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to divest local governments permanently of their jurisdiction, disregard the concerns of local citizens, and undermine local businesses that have long supported the surrounding community, so that a tribe can make more money. The Secretary’s decision to acquire land in trust for a casino must comply with laws that require a tribe to have been recognized and under federal jurisdiction in 1934 and to have a significant historical connection to the land. The Cowlitz Tribe and the Casino Site do not meet these requirements.