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Indian tribe and state battle over Michigan land use

Indian tribes who build casinos on unused land often find it to be a profitable endeavor. A land use battle is taking place in Michigan over non-reservation land. The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians wants to build casinos on the land. However, a former U.S. congressman, who wrote the Michigan Indian Land Claims Settlement Act that gave the tribe a monetary settlement,is fighting the application. He says that the land was not authorized to be used for gaming.

The tribe sought to put in trust land in Romulus and Lansing. In order to build casinos, which the tribe intends to do, it must also be proven that the land was purchased from 19th century land settlements. The tribe must also wait and see if the land can be put into a trust. It may take months to receive a response from the Department of Interior.

But that's not the only dispute. The tribe and the state have a pact that says a gaming agreement involving off-reservation land must be signed by all 12 Michigan tribes before it can be legalized. However, the tribe argues that their application for land use does not specify that it will be used for gaming. If the signatures are still required, the tribe will likely lose its battle due to the competition.

Land use laws are put in place to protect those who live in neighboring areas. The state of Michigan may not necessarily want casinos on the property, but the final decision lies with the courts. No doubt, both sides have their legal teams working on the matter.

Source: The Detroit News, "Fight taking shape between casino operators, Indian tribes" Karl Henkel, Jun. 20, 2014

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