Sunday, May 17, 2009

Menominee Tribe Sues Feds Over Denial Of Wisconsin Casino

By Ken Davison
Feather News

The Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin filed a lawsuit in federal court Friday against U.S. Department of the Interior and its secretary, Kenneth Salazar, over that federal department's rejection of the proposed off-reservation Kenosha casino that was backed by the Mohegan Tribe.

The lawsuit claims that two policies limiting off-reservation gaming that were developed by the Interior Department were done without notifying tribes, were arbitrary and capricious and undermines policies aimed at promoting tribal economic development.

Perhaps the most controversial policy at issue was developed by the Interior Department in January 2008 and sought to limit Indian gaming where the proposed casin location was outisde of a commutable distance from the tribe's reservation.

Many proposed off-reservation casinos were denied in the month that policy, or guidance memorandum, was issued. The Menominee's proposed off-reservation casino, which the Mohegans have funded to the tune of at least $13 million so far, was officially denied a year later, in January 2009.

In November, the Menominee had previously filed a lawsuit in federal court opposing the 2008 guidance memorandum but withdrew that suit two months ago.

Project officals have expressed hope that better results might be obtained under the Obama administration than those under the Bush administration but with the proposed casino site ten miles from the border of Illinois (the state where President Obama was formerly a senator) it isn't clear how receptive the Obama administration will be toward the casino project.