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Tribes may appeal BIA rejection of trust land for casinos

Tulsa, Oklahoma (AP) 1-08

Two area tribes with pending trust applications for land outside of their reservation areas say they may appeal a recent Bureau of Indian Affairs decision rejecting their claims.

The head of the bureau, Carl Artman, rejected many trust applications from across the country, including one from the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe in Miami, Okla., and the United Keetoowah Band in Tahlequah.

Both tribes applied for trust status on land they bought and hoped to use for gaming. The Senecas applied for trust on a farm in New York state and the Keetoowahs sought trust status for land in Fort Smith, Ark.

Tribes can appeal the decision or repeat the application process.

Artman, the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for Indian affairs, said in a letter to each tribe that he strongly weighed consideration of state and local governments in the areas where trusts were requested.

Issues such as zoning laws and jurisdiction on Indian land often arise and influence the outcome, he said.

“Distant local governments are less likely to have experience dealing with and accommodating tribal governments,” Artman wrote. “The Department has considerable experience” with problems caused by checkerboard jurisdiction patterns.

The Senecas and Keetoowahs sought trust status for their purchased land because that is required for land used for gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988.

Sole discretion to grant trust status on land parcels is granted to the BIA under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.

The 4,200-member Seneca tribe operates a casino between Miami and Grove and the 12,000-member United Keetoowah Band operates a casino in Tahlequah.

 

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