Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Tribes In The Media: Menominee Tribe Withdraws Lawsuit

Feather News

This installment of The Tribes In The Media is an article in the Milwaukee Business Journal about the Menominee Tribe's withdrawal of a lawsuit against the federal government's decision to reject the Tribe's plan for a casino that would have been developed and managed by the Mohegan Tribe. The Mohegans have spent at least $12 million thus far on the project. The Mohegan Tribe has also spent about $25 million on a proposed Cowlitz Tribe casino in Washington state that has yet to receive federal approval and whose fate is uncertain.

Menominee pushing casino plan out of court
The Business Journal of Milwaukee
April 10, 2009

The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin has voluntarily withdrawn its lawsuit against the federal government regarding rejection of its proposal to build an $808 million off-reservation Indian casino in Kenosha, but it is not backing off the plan.

Evan Zeppos, a spokesman for the tribe, noted that tribe will reserve the right to refile the lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior if the agency doesn't decide to reverse its decision. The tribe had sued claiming the decision-making process that led to the rejection of its application to take the Dairyland Greyhound Park property into federal trust was unjust.

Zeppos said the tribe has determined it prudent to engage in a dialogue with the new Obama Administration rather than try to litigate its demands.

The tribe intends to refile its lawsuit if the Interior does not withdraw a guidance memorandum issued in January 2008 that formed the basis for the application denial and reverses its decision, according to a notice of voluntary dismissal filed in federal court March 30. The tribe said it is awaiting a decision from the agency on the withdrawal of that memorandum.

In January 2009, then-Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne rejected the tribe's application, a decision the tribe called "arbitrary, capricious, and unlawful."

Kempthorne, who had made clear his opposition to off-reservation Indian gaming, issued new guidelines for approving such projects in January 2008 that asserted that the farther a casino site is located from a tribe’s reservation, the greater the harm to the reservation.

Shortly after the guidelines were announced in January 2008, nearly a dozen off-reservation casino proposals were rejected by the agency for that reason.