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Court dismisses latest challenge to plans for tribal casino

Denver, Colorado (AP) 11-07

The Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma received another favorable federal court ruling during late October, clearing the way for its plans for a casino in downtown Kansas City, Kan.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in its latest ruling dismissed a challenge by the Kansas governor and other tribes seeking to reverse a decision that gave the Wyandotte tribe the land for the casino.

In dismissing the case, the appeals court said a district court that affirmed the trust status of the land didn’t have jurisdiction to rule.

The dispute began after the secretary of the Interior Department in 1996 decided to take land across the street from City Hall into trust for the Wyandotte tribe.

The tribe has received payments as compensation for the loss of its territory to the U.S. over the last two centuries, and some of the compensation money by law can be used for land purchases.

The Kansas governor and other tribes filed a lawsuit challenging the Interior secretary’s decision to take the land into trust over questions about whether the Wyandotte spent more than it was allowed to for the land. While that case was pending, the Wyandotte bought the land and the secretary took it into trust.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in April 2006 remanded that case to the secretary, who reaffirmed her decision.

The governor and now four tribes then filed a new complaint, resulting in the district court’s affirmation of the trust status of the land.

The 10th Circuit, in its ruling said that by the time the plaintiffs filed the second complaint, the land in question was already held by the U.S. in trust for the Wyandotte tribe.

Without a waiver of sovereignty, the district court did not have jurisdiction to rule, the appeals court said.
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