HomePublicationsNewsletter ArchiveNewslettersVolume 20Issue 27Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation Act Passes Congress, Presented for President's Signature

On Tuesday, September 16th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 1603 (S.1603), an act that would reaffirm the land upon which the Gun Lake Casino sits in Wayland, Michigan as “trust land” and further ratify and confirm the prior actions of the Secretary of the Interior in taking this land into trust for the benefit of the  Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians (“Gun Lake Tribe”). S.1603, which is sponsored by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), was previously passed by the Senate in June, 2014.  This bill was presented to President Obama for his consideration on Thursday, September, 18th.  The measure will become law if the President signs it or does not veto it within 10 days.  There is no indication that the President intends to veto this bill.

S.1603 is aimed at resolving confusion over the status of the subject land following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2009 decision in the matter of Carcieri v Salazar, which held that the Bureau of Indian Affairs can only approve decisions to take land into trust for tribes that were “under federal jurisdiction” as of 1934.  As the Gun Lake Tribe was not federally recognized until 1999, lawsuits have been filed challenging the validity of the Gun Lake Casino, including the matter of Patchak v Kempthornecurrently pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.  S.1603 will likely obviate any further challenge to the Gun Lake Casino in this regard, as section 2(b) of the bill provides “[n]otwithstanding any other provision of law, an action (including an action pending in a Federal court as of the date of enactment of this Act) relating to the land described in subsection (a) shall not be filed or maintained in a Federal court and shall be promptly dismissed.”


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