Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Federal Judge: Chickasaw Deal OK'd

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Federal Judge: Chickasaw Deal OK'd

Article excerpt

A federal judge said Wednesday that the off-track wagering gaming compact of the Chickasaw Nation was wrongfully approved by federal regulators.

In a lawsuit initially filed by the Cheyenne-Arapaho Gaming Commission, which the Apache Tribe joined, U.S. District Judge David Russell said "the administrative record does not support approval of the compact under any standard."

"That is, regardless of the deference due, the administrative record is so lacking in substance that it fails to provide a satisfactory explanation for approval of the compact," Russell wrote.

The tribes also challenged the determination that land in Marlow described in the compact is located within an area constituting former reservation land of the Chickasaws.

Wednesday's ruling refers to the Apaches, but the dispute is one of long standing for several smaller tribes.

Russell said the record includes a deed of trust transferring the land to the U.S. to be held in trust for the Chickasaw tribe.

However, he said that the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act imposes a greater burden.

He said it does not appear that any official made a determination that the land in Marlow is Indian land, as required by the federal law.

There is no evidence, Russell said, that the Chickasaw tribe exercised jurisdiction or governmental control over the land, and no indication that such control was ever considered during the compact- approval process.

Because no appropriate determination was made, Russell said, approval of the compact was "arbitrary and capricious."

Russell remanded the case back to the federal secretary of the interior and the National Indian Gaming Commission.

The decision is the latest round in a larger dispute between the Five Civilized Tribes and smaller tribes in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma City attorney Richard Grellner, who represented the Cheyenne-Arapaho and Apache tribes, said smaller Indian nations are required to undergo a more comprehensive, lengthier process for approval of land acquisitions, and have to declare whether they are going to gamble on the land. …

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