WASHINGTON, DC - The House Natural Resources Committee approved legislation this
week which advances plans for new Indian casinos in Romulus and Port Huron. The
bill provides land in Port Huron to the Bay Mills Tribe and land in Romulus to
the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe. In exchange the tribes give up their land claims to
110 acres around Charlotte Beach in the eastern Upper Peninsula. The land
dispute goes back to 1855.
The original settlements were made by former Republican Gov. John Engler in 2002
and later endorsed by his successor, Jennifer Granholm. Support and opposition
has been mainly divided by geography.
Promoters of the bills include Democrats John Dingell of Dearborn, Bart Stupak of
Menominee, and Republican Candice Miller of Macomb County's Harrison Township.
Both Michigan senators, Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, support the Port Huron
casino. Levin has not taken a public position on the Romulus casino.
However, casino interests in Detroit have vigorously opposed the agreement.
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick believes it will hurt casinos in his city. He is
joined by the MGM Detroit and the Saginaw Chippewa, who own Soaring Eagle Casino
in Mt. Pleasant.
However, the officials of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians believe
the market is large enough to support both their Greektown casino and a new
casino in Romulus.
The legislation can now go to the House floor for a vote. If passed, it will go
to the Senate where Majority Leader Harry Reid has already voiced his
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