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Gun Lake Tribe wins key court decision for casino

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May 02, 2008

WASHINGTON - The Gun Lake Tribe has won a key court decision in its battle to build a casino.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington has upheld a decision by a federal district court to allow the Interior Department to take 147 acres of land into federal trust for the purpose of building an Indian casino. The tribe plans to build a $200 million casino in Wayland County with 2,500 slot machines and 80 gaming tables.

''Today we thank the Creator for bringing our tribe a brighter future.  This victory would not have been possible if not for our ancestors who suffered greatly to preserve our sovereignty. We applaud the court for again affirming our rights founded in our treaties, the Constitution, acts of Congress, and decision of the Supreme Court,'' Tribal Chairman D.K. Sprague said in a prepared statement.

The Gun Lake Tribe, whose formal name is the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Potawatomi Indians, filed a land-into-trust application in 2001 to re-establish reservation lands for the purpose of economic development under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The application was approved by the U.S. Department of Interior in May 2005.

Michigan Gaming Opposition, commonly known as MichGo, was challenging the location of the project. MichGo wanted the federal government to conduct a full environmental impact study, and it challenged the authority of the secretary of the interior to move lands into trust for tribes.  MichGo said it will continue its opposition and seek a Supreme Court ruling on the interior secretary's authority.

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