A federal judge has sided with the Cowlitz Indian tribe in its long fight to establish a reservation and build a casino along Interstate 5 in southwest Washington.
U.S. District Judge Barbara J.
Rothstein in Washington, D.C., on Friday dismissed a lawsuit filed by
plaintiffs who had challenged a federal government decision to put into
trust for the tribe about 152 acres west of La Center in Clark County
and to allow gambling on that land, the Columbian reported.
tribe of southwest Washington, which has about 3,500 members but no land
of its own, plans to develop the property into tribal offices, housing,
a tribal center as well as a massive casino-resort complex with a
roughly 134,000-square-foot casino.
Plaintiffs who challenged the
federal government's decisions questioned the Cowlitz tribe's historical
ties to the area west of Interstate 5, the newspaper reported.
tribal offices are 24 miles north of the site, and plaintiffs argued
that the Cowlitz tribe just wanted their reservation to be an easy
16-mile drive from Portland to attract casino customers in that area.
plaintiffs include the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community
of Oregon, which owns and operates a casino that would compete with any
future casino built on the land.
Others who sued include Clark
County and the city of Vancouver, property owners and card room
businesses. The plaintiffs include a group called Citizens Against
Reservation Shopping, which includes The Columbian's publisher, Scott
They argued that the federal government violated the
law in issuing its decision to put the land into trust and to allow
gambling on that land.
The Grand Ronde tribe on Friday said it needs to analyze the judge's opinion but it disagrees.
Officials with Vancouver and Clark County said Friday that
they needed more time to review the judge's opinion before deciding
whether to appeal.
The federal government recognized the Cowlitz
tribe in 2000. That ruling was challenged and affirmed in 2002, and the
tribe applied to take the land into trust.
The Bureau of Indian
Affairs issued a decision in 2010 that was challenged. A federal judge
told the agency to rescind that 2010 decision and issue a new one, which
was also challenged.
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