Fed drops lawsuit against Kewadin Casino St. Ignace
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January 25, 2009
ST. IGNACE, Mich. - The U.S. Department of Interior and the National Indian
Gaming Commission (NIGC) have voluntarily withdrawn its lawsuit in the 6th
Circuit Court of Appeals challenging whether land in St. Ignace, which was taken
into federal trust for the tribe, was eligible for gaming under the Indian
Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). Last August, Judge Edgar of the U.S. district
court for the western district of Michigan, ruled in favor of the tribe.
The tribe has been operating in its new casino in St. Ignace since late 2007
under a preliminary injunction which restrained the United States from taking
any action pending the outcome of the case. Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory
Act (IGRA), gaming is prohibited on lands taken into trust after October 17,
1988, unless the land is contiguous to the reservation on that date, or the land
is restored lands to a restored tribe. On August 29, 2008, Judge Edgar ruled
that the tribe's new casino was built on land contiguous to the tribe's
reservation and, therefore, is eligible for casino gaming.
"The dismissal of the United States' appeal of Judge Edgar's ruling in favor of
the tribe comes after a long struggle with the Department of Interior and the
National Indian Gaming Commission", said Bruce Greene, attorney for the Sault
He added, "It is troubling that the tribe's trustee took such a strident
position about the replacement casino located only a few hundred feet from the
location of the antiquated casino. Fortunately, Judge Edgar construed the law in
a manner consistent with the tribe's interpretation."
Sault Tribe Chairman Darwin 'Joe' McCoy said, "We are most gratified to be
vindicated by the court regarding the eligibility of lands for gaming under IGRA.
The tribe believed it was always operating within the law, and was surprised to
learn that the Interior Department and the NIGC disagreed back in 2006. After a
long court battle, the court agreed with the tribe. With the dismissal of the
appeal, there is no longer any legal cloud over the new casino in St. Ignace."
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