January 04, 2008

Off-rez casinos canceled

A setback for Catskills casino plans

Decision curtails off-reservation gambling hallsTribal officials blasted the long-awaited decision by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne's office on applications by the St. Regis Mohawk and Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican tribes. It essentially kills the St. Regis Mohawks' plan to build a major casino at the Monticello Raceway. The project had previously received key approvals from the federal government and Spitzer and was in place to go forward if the Interior Department agreed to put almost 30 acres of land at the harness track into trust for the project.

The department ruled that the site, some 350 miles south of the Akwesasne Reservation that staddles the Canadian border, is too far to offer job opportunities to tribal residents. And if the residents move away to be closer to the casino, that would have "negative impacts on tribal life."
The tribe reacts:

Tribe Calls Secretarial Decision on Trust Application Paternalistic and Wrong

DOI Denies Sullivan County ApplicationWhile disappointing, this decision was not unexpected. It will not be the last word. Kempthorne has offered a prejudged position that declares “Washington cowboys” know what is best for American Indians. Moreover, it completely throws New York and the people of Sullivan County under the wagon. There is an undeniable and irrefutable record that makes clear that this decision is arbitrary, capricious and laughable. In the end, the record will not support a denial.

“As far as we can tell this decision is 100% politics. Remarkably, the Secretary has chosen to blatantly ignore the merits of our application and the undeniable strength of our administrative record in favor of catering to powerful special interest gaming groups. This decision defies all reason and is the product of a man and an administration that cannot stomach the idea of Native American success and financial independence. It is deplorable,” said Tribal Chief Lorraine White. “The language contained within the decision strikes me as a brazen paternalistic assault against not only the Mohawks but all of Indian Country. The clear message is that Indians belong on reservations and should be content to receive handouts and commodity cheese from the federal government.”

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