HomePublicationsNewsletter ArchiveNewslettersVolume 20Issue 20Sault Tribe Files Land Into Trust Applications

On Wednesday, June 11, 2014, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians (“Sault Tribe”) announced that it had made formal application to the U.S. Department of the Interior to place certain land into trust in both Lansing and Huron Township. The application follows Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s recent withdrawal of the State of Michigan’s Petition for a Writ of Certiorari for U.S. Supreme Court review in the matter of Michigan v. Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, tribes may only conduct gaming operations on “Indian lands”, and, approval by the Secretary of the Interior to take the land into trust on behalf of the Tribe is one way to satisfy the “Indian lands” requirement, particularly for off-reservation land.

In Lansing, the Tribe has asked that certain lands that it owns in downtown Lansing, adjacent to the Lansing Center, be taken into trust.  In Wayne County, the Tribe has asked the Secretary to take a 71-acre parcel located at Sibley Road and I-275, southwest of Detroit Metro Airport, into trust on its behalf.

The Sault Tribe believes that a federal law called the Michigan Indian Land Claims Settlement Act will lead to the Secretary of the Interior taking these lands into trust because the lands were purchased with funds from this Act.   

Although proponents of these potential casino projects, including Lansing Mayor Virg Benero, are expressing optimism, opponents, including Attorney General Schuette and other Michigan tribes, have publicly stated that the Sault Tribe’s current plans nonetheless violate a revenue-sharing provision of Tribe’s gaming compact with the State of Michigan, that would require an agreement to be reached to share revenue with other tribes.

 

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