KBIC Proposed Gaming Facility in Marquette County Approved by Department of Interior; Cayuga Request Dismissed

From the press release (though the embedded links with additional information aren’t yet working):

The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community is located in Baraga County, Mich., and has approximately 3,310 members. It has more than 6,000 acres of existing trust lands on its reservation in the state’s Upper Peninsula. The tribe has been operating and regulating a class III gaming facility in Marquette County, about 90 miles from its headquarters, since at least 2000. The tribe is proposing to relocate this existing facility to a new location within Marquette County, on an 80-acre parcel at the site of the former Marquette County Airport. The new site is 18 miles closer to the tribe’s reservation than its existing facility. Under a 2000 settlement agreement with the state of Michigan, the tribe has agreed to close its existing off-reservation gaming facility if its proposal receives final approval and it begins gaming activities on the new site.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) prohibits Indian gaming on lands acquired in trust after the law’s enactment in 1988, unless one of three explicitly crafted exceptions applies. The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community submitted its application under IGRA’s “Secretarial Determination” exception, which requires the Secretary to determine the proposed gaming establishment is in the best interest of the tribe and its citizens, and would not be detrimental to the surrounding community. The governor of Michigan must concur in this determination before the land can be acquired in trust for the tribe for gaming.

Interior also dismissed an application by the Cayuga Indian Nation, stating it was incomplete. Here is press coverage of that decision. Senator Schumer’s quote is particularly disheartening:

Schumer acknowledged that the battle over the Cayuga application could continue if the Cayugas submit a new application.

“I fought tooth and nail to have the Interior Department block this application, and am pleased that the federal government has heeded our call,” he said. “I’ll continue to stand side-by-side with homeowners, businesses, and county government leaders to oppose further attempts to take land into trust without the consent of Seneca and Cayuga counties.”

The Cayugas started the trust application process in 2005. The 125 acres it sought to place into federal trust includes part of the nation’s ancestral homeland around the north end of Cayuga Lake.

Documents are also available here