U.S. Department of the Interior Action Detrimental to Arizona and Arizona Tribes

Jul 03, 2014, 17:01 ET from Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community

PHOENIX, July 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Leaders of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC) are dismayed with the action by U.S. Department of the Interior, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, Kevin Washburn who today communicated his decision to convert a county island located within the City of Glendale, Arizona into Indian reservation land for the Tohono O'odham Nation, a southern Arizona tribe. While this action does not mean that gaming can occur on the parcel clearly it shows total disregard for the state-tribal gaming policy established under Proposition 202, and today SRPMIC President Diane Enos releases the following statement:

"The Community absolutely disagrees with Washburn's decision for both legal and policy reasons. The Tohono O'odham Nation has asserted a right to create three additional Indian reservations on county islands in Maricopa County to locate casinos. This is why many Valley mayors have been standing by tribes in asking for a resolution by Congress, fearful that their city is next. 

Arizona voters approved state-tribal gaming policy limiting casinos to existing reservations in 2002. To that end, for Washburn to announce his decision on the land now, is questionable given that Congress has yet to clarify its intent on this issue, specifically, that of new reservations being created for gaming purposes.

H.R. 1410, the Keep the Promise Act of 2013, is federal legislation reaffirming that no additional tribal casinos would be permitted in the Phoenix metro area until the expiration of the current gaming compacts.  The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1410 by a supermajority in 2013 and a Senate hearing on this matter and Indian gaming has been scheduled for July 23 at the request of Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake.

Even the U.S. Supreme Court is relying on Congress to intervene in what is becoming a growing national practice and problem of 'off-reservation gaming,' or 'reservation-shopping' and tribes asserting sovereign immunity against legal claims of bad faith, as is the situation in Arizona and recently in Michigan with the Bay Mills Indian Community.

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community will continue to work with Congress to act affirmatively."

SOURCE Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community