Both federal Judge David Campbell and justices at the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out all the arguments, except the question of whether the Nation's land was "within" Glendale's corporate limits. The Department of the Interior already had determined that the Nation's unincorporated parcel of county land was not in Glendale.

The appellate court's response was to send the issue back to the DOI to explain how it arrived at its decision. The justices attached no time frame to the request.

Norris hopes that a decision from Interior will come in the next month or two. A spokesman for the federal agency says only that the issue is under review.

Pablo Iglesias
An artist's rendering of the Tohono O'odham Nation's West Valley Resort.
An artist's rendering of the Tohono O'odham Nation's West Valley Resort.

And, until the matter is resolved, another lawsuit filed by the Tohono O'odham challenging anti-casino state legislation has stalled in federal court. This statute allows Glendale to forcibly annex land if its owner files an application for the federal government to take the property into trust — a law written so narrowly that it unquestionably seeks to torpedo the Nation's plan.

A federal judge ruled the law unconstitutional, and the state and Glendale are appealing it to the Ninth Circuit. The federal appellate court is waiting for the DOI's second review of the corporate-limits question before it considers the case.

Yet another case filed by Gila River and the state against the Nation in federal court challenged its right to conduct gaming on its property. It was this case that proved the most damning to opponents' claims of broken promises.

Attorneys for Gila River argued that prohibiting future casinos in the Phoenix metro area was a "fundamental premise of the compact." The judge, however, questioned why, if it was so fundamental, that it wasn't scripted into the gaming agreement.

The Nation also showed proof that the state and some tribes had tried unsuccessfully to block casinos on "after-acquired lands."

Campbell stated that the Nation provided verification that state legislators had tried to modify the 1993 gaming agreements in place before those approved in 2002. Lawmakers had tried to "exclude all gaming" on all after-acquired lands.

After-acquired lands are those taken into trust, or turned into reservations, after 1988, the year that the feds established the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. These federal regulations generally prohibit gaming on "after-acquired" lands except in special circumstances, including when a tribe acquires acreage through settlement of a land claim, as the Tohono O'odham did in purchasing the West Valley Resort property.

"The [state] legislation did not pass," Campbell wrote. "From this and other evidence, the Nation exerts that anyone even passingly familiar with the Compact and its negotiations . . . knew that [it] did not bar additional casinos."

The appeal in this case, too, has been stalled until March 20 in hopes that the Supreme Court will, by then, have decided Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community — a case in which Michigan is challenging the rights of tribal leaders to open a casino without a gaming agreement with the state.

While the legal issues are pending, the anti-casino campaign against the Tohono O'odham continues on other fronts.

Gila River has circulated flyers with bold type and all-caps threatening: "Our neighborhoods are at risk," and "What's Next: An Indian reservation in your neighborhood" and "They broke one promise. Now they're making countless more."

It portrays casinos as seedy and, ironically, Indian tribes as villains bent on destroying schools, daycare centers, and surrounding businesses: "If an Indian tribe from the Tucson area is allowed to build a casino, [its officials] can lease it to whom they want. If the tribe wants to lease to adult-entertainment businesses, [it] can."

Gila River leaders have been quoted in local newspapers disparaging their fellow tribe, and ultimately, all Indian casinos. They use the same rhetoric that state politicians used to stifle gaming in Arizona.

Consider:

Former Arizona Governor Symington told the Tucson Citizen in 1996: "The heart of my concern is the social and cultural change that's going to be brought about in Scottsdale, Tempe, and Mesa if these casinos are allowed to tuck themselves in the belly of the city . . . It could have a very traumatic effect on the communities I represent, and I intend to vigorously defend their interest."

Gila River Governor Mendoza was quoted in a Capitol Media Services article last year that the gambling compact promised "to have gaming only on traditional tribal lands and to keep casinos out of neighborhoods and away from homes, schools, and places of worship.''

Mendoza said this several months after the federal court ruled that the compact stated no such thing.

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community warned about "risky developments like this off-reservation casino" in a 2013 statement published in the Republic.

Norris says he doesn't understand, nor does his community understand, how a fellow tribe — which also engages in gaming — can justify treating the Tohono O'odham in this manner.

It's a sentiment that crosses tribal lines.

"One of my concerns is that it disrupts the harmony between us," Gila River member Severio "Ace" Kyyitan is quoted in his tribe's newsletter as saying. "We've got other issues challenging at our doorstep: state, federal. As indigenous people, we need to continue that unity and that harmony together."

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My Voice Nation Help
20 comments
jeanjb
jeanjb

i miss gov mary thomas

kevinklein801
kevinklein801

Isn't it ironic that as the government entities arguments against this project get struck down time after time in court; that they are now falling back on a argument that basically says, "the tribe is breaking its promise"?  Seems broken promises sting both ways.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

The Gila River Indian Community is contractually required to indemnify their Casino Management Company and defend it's profit guarantee they granted it in their contracts.  They HAVE to pursue the Tohono O'odohm to not open that casino in Glendale.  If they didn't they'd have to pay all sorts of premiums to whatever slimeball casino management company they have out in Gila River.


devilsbeatwildcats
devilsbeatwildcats

This is just a delay tactic by the COG, Gila Monsters & Salty's for the Super Bowl revenue. All three tribes are decent descendants of the Hohokam's who were the original settlers in south central Arizona. Both tribes do not need casino revenue to spoil there people with free utilities, housing, etc... They can cash it in by leasing their land for development to European Americans.

FRONTERA
FRONTERA

    Shout out to Santa R0sa >>> "bouncin' on twenty fo's" ....."sippin' on coke and rum , i'm like so what I'm drunk" - R KELLY IGNITION...

FRONTERA
FRONTERA

If I were GILA RIVER , I would try to work out some sort of  deal with TO NATION ...TO has the law ,the money .the lawyers and patience to win...

mrwally373
mrwally373

I think the real reason the casino has not at this point been approved,...is the Gila People who operate in the west valley, they don't want the competition...they opened another hotel on their properties, and with a casino opening in Glendale would take ALOT of the casino customers away.

TaxpayingVoter
TaxpayingVoter

The people who spend REAL money consistently in casinos tend to change it up and move from one to another in a single night.


There is room for another casino up there and the community would benefit.


This whole situation really makes the Gila River community look bad and it saddens me.

serpico1000
serpico1000

Is this another card playing deal from the major government players? for the entire picture here is that since the local governments can not fight then turn the table on these tribal players?? 

Laura Antonuccio
Laura Antonuccio

Are you kidding me with this photo? A red faced slot machine wearing a headdress, covered in arrows, tomahawks and a teepee? No one should have to tell you how offensive this is.

davewk2002
davewk2002

I have worked on  the reservations involved  and have worked at an elementary school near the stadium in Glendale.  This dispute is about greed.  I believe that the casino would be a positive source of jobs for the west valley and would benefit the Tohono O'odham. I had the privilege to attend a Thanksgiving lunch at a school on the Salt River Reservation a few years ago when a tribal leader offered a prayer before the meal.  I was humbled by the words he spoke and it was clear that he held deeper respect for this land and for Arizona than the rest of us whose families might have been here only 100 years.  


To the tribe:  Look to your traditions to settle your dispute. Learn to share; you will all benefit.  There is plenty.  Do not be too quick to adopt attorneys to settle disputes among yourselves.  Use attorneys for disputes with others.  Be very careful of the White men that you are dealing with here.  They have their own interests at heart.


To those in Glendale who are offended by the casino:  Get over it!  These people are more honest in their dealings with others than you are.  Until your families have lived in this valley for 500 or more years you should be considered their guests.  These people were here before the Spanish and lived here long before this was part of Mexico or the United States.  Stop this nonsense; you should be ashamed of your actions.  There is much you could learn from the Tohono O'odham that would enrich your lives if you spend time with these people. 

Pakrat4ever
Pakrat4ever

What the other tribes are saying is the same things the Republicans are saying: We got ours screw the rest of your indians friends.  Once opposing tribes start pumping money into the politicians campaigns and the cities coffers that are opposed to letting the Tohono O'odham open their casino, it's pretty plain, the other tribes don't want their Brothers to reap the rewards of having a casino of their own.  It basically called Greed.  Yes, the O'odham casino will take a bite out of the other casino's profits. I see buses loading up in Sun City heading for the long trip to the other casino's.  But I feel the Tohono O'odham tribes should still have the right that the other tribes have to make a profit and help their people.  What's fair to one tribe, should be fair for all.  Yes, the Indians are still at war with their Brothers and now it's all about the Almighty Dollar, and Yes, they've dropped their bows, arrows and lances; and now the lawyers and politicians are reaping their rewards by fighting for the money; I'll bet they hope the situation goes on forever. I support the Tohono O'odham tribe in their quest for equal Casino representation.

pat029
pat029

This is just a issue that should be done by the indians and not by this rag this a newspaper thats just  yellow news paper every thing the sheriff  found was all correct . and just because you fond a cropt judge and had the board of supervisor that you paid off  you got off but leave the Indians alone and Frank Trent is as bad as flake and just as money hungry  just leave them alone.

jpnightrain
jpnightrain

What?!? The TOs broke their promise to the white eye to not build a casino in the Phoenix area?  I'm shocked, shocked, I say, since the WEs would never break a promise to them. LOL

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

It would be interesting to know just what is Trent Franks' angle in the ongoing controversy about a new casino in Glendale. It is very hard to imagine that he is concerned with the well-being of area residents, much less the plight of the T.O. Nation. Is his involvement all about paybacks from the Gila River Indian Community? That wouldn't surprise me at all.

donnied1
donnied1

Get off the booze and drugs, and try hard to focus! Orherwise, shut the fuck up. You embarrass yourself...

marcy
marcy

@eric.nelson745  

Trent's angle is $$$$ as in the thousands of dollars poured into his campaign coffers by the Gila River community.


Trent likes to talk about free enterprise but when push comes to shove, he'll go with the money every time.

logicman
logicman

@eric.nelson745  a congressman worried about the well-being of area residents?!?!?  HAHAHAHHAHHHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!

 
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