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Fort Sill Apaches casino rejected by federal judge

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August 8, 2008

DEMING, NM - A federal judge in Oklahoma has rejected a request from the Fort Sill Apaches to enforce a 2007 settlement agreement between the tribe and the federal government. In that settlement the federal government agreed to "accept and timely process'' the tribe's application for a reservation on 30acres at Akela Flats, New Mexico.

The Fort Sill Apaches hoped a favorable decision would move towards reservation status and federal approval to operate a high-stakes bingo parlor on that land.

However, the Bureau of Indian Affairs argued successfully that an environmental assessment of the casino site must be completed before the government can proceed.

Fort Sill Apache attorney Phillip Thompson said "We will comply with this request (environmental assessment) and then move forward."

To seek public support the tribe has recently run ads on Albuquerque TV and radio stations that say: "For over 120 years, the Chiricahua Apaches struggled in exile. Today we return to the land of our ancestors in New Mexico with plans to build a future. Don't let history repeat itself.  Help the Chiricahua Apaches shape their own destiny."

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