Friday, December 24, 2010

Feds Agree To Establishment Of Cowlitz Tribe's Modern-Day "Initial Reservation"

Feather News

The federal Department of the Interior agreed to take a 152-acre parcel of land into trust as reservation land for the Cowlitz Tribe in the State of Washington. The tribe plans to build a casino on the land with the backing of the Mohegan Tribe.

Casino opponents are likely to challenge the federal government's decision, arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Carcieri v. Salazar case does not allow the feds to take land into trust for the Cowlitz Tribe because the Tribe was federally recognized in 2000.

In a February 24, 2009 Feather News article, we wrote, "The ruling may not affect the Cowlitz Tribe's ability to have land taken into trust for its initial reservation" while the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority noted in its quarterly Securities and Exchange Commission filing following the 2009 court decision that "The Cowlitz Tribe did not receive federal recognition until 2000, so the tribe must establish that it was under federal jurisdiction in 1934 by separate means."

The next challenge will be to line up the financing for a casino. A $510 million casino was orignially planned but that figure could change based on the current economy and the inherent risk to investors and bankers of financing casinos on Indian lands.

The Feather News estimates that the Mohegan Tribe has invested at least $30 million in the project since a casino development and management agreement was made with the Cowlitz Tribe in September 2004.