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Supreme Court ruling may not stop Gun Lake casino

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March 12, 2009

ALLEGAN COUNTY - In a landmark case the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Interior Department cannot transfer land into federal trust for tribes recognized after 1934. The land transfer establishes a sovereign reservation exempt from state taxation and laws and is a prerequisite to building an Indian casino.

The Match-Be-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, commonly referred to as the Gun Lake Tribe, was federally recognized October 23, 1998. They own 137 acres in Wayland Township which the U.S. Interior Department placed into trust on January 30th. The tribe plans a $200 million casino at U.S. 131 and 129th Street.
"Gun Lake should not have been allowed to put that land into trust,'' Rusty Merchant, a spokesman for the anti-casino group 23 is Enough, said following the court ruling. "The question is, can you reverse that action?'"

The Supreme Court ruling is not retroactive, and the federal Quiet Title Act precludes challenging land already in trust. Therefore, the Gun Lake casino is likely irreversible.

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