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Beloit Indian Casino: Chippewa or Ho-Chunk?

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November 11, 2009

BELOIT, WI - There are 3 players in building a future casino in Beloit: the Bad River and St. Croix Chippewa tribes, the Ho-Chunk Nation and the federal government.

The Chippewa Indian tribe is waiting for a court decision for its project which has been evolving for the past ten years. Last January the Interior Department rejected their application based on a new policy for "off-reservation" casinos.

Joseph Hunt, Public Relations Director for the casino project representing the Bad River and St. Croix Chippewa tribes, said last week "The law is very clear. You don't just change agreements, Indian gaming regulatory acts or treaties. You don't just do it unilaterally, so sure, we think we have a very strong case." A court decision is expected soon.

In the meantime the Ho-Chunk have purchased 37 acres of land that was intended for the Chippewa tribes. The Chippewa still hold options on 32 adjacent acres which they will buy if the court decision is favorable.

Hunt says "The Ho-Chunk land purchase does complicate things. In fact we're involved in a situation analysis right now trying to figure out how complicated it's become."

In a press release Friday, the Ho-Chunk Nation said the purchased land is in proximity to its existing tribal land and the federal government has recognized its aboriginal ties to Beloit and the region. In addition, the tribes gaming compact with the state allows for development of one more casino site which could be applied to the property.

In the press release Ho-Chunk Nation president Wilfrid Cleveland said "The Ho-Chunk people are the aboriginal people of known as Beloit, and we take tremendous pride in that heritage. That makes for a natural partnership with the city and the region, and we are excited to explore all the possibilities."

The Ho-Chuck Nation has begun the application process with the Interior Department to place the land in trust with the purpose of building a casino.

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