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Menominee Tribe Reaches Settlement with Federal Government, Proposes New Casino

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The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin has reached a settlement of its lawsuit with the federal government challenging the Bush Administration's January 2009 rejection of the Tribe’s application to acquire the Kenosha, Wisconsin-based Dairyland Greyhound Track for gaming purposes. Dairyland, the state’s last pari-mutuel greyhound racing track, shut down in late 2009.

The United States government has agreed to reverse its earlier rejection of the application and review the tribe's application to take the land into federal trust, allowing for the development of an off-reservation Indian casino. The Menominee Tribe proposes to build a destination resort in Kenosha to include a casino, a hotel and a 5,000-seat multi-purpose facility.

"Settlement of this lawsuit allows us to move forward in our efforts to bring thousands of quality jobs and a huge boost to the economy of the State,” Randal Chevalier, the Tribe's chairman, said in a press release. The Menominee Tribe projects that construction of the entertainment complex will create 1,000 construction jobs, and ultimately employ more than 3,000 full-time employees.

Within 45 days of the federal government's August 16 announcement, the Department of the Interior must notify the Tribe of what additional or updated information may be necessary for the Department of the Interior to complete its review of the application.

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If after such review the Secretary of the Interior determines that the Tribe’s planned casino and entertainment center will be in the best interest of the Tribe and not detrimental to the local community, it will forward that finding to Governor Scott Walker for his concurrence.

The settlement agreement comes about two months after Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk rescinded a controversial January 2008 guidance memo that set limits on acquiring land in trust for gaming.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” Chevalier said, "but with the withdrawal of the off-reservation Guidance and the settlement of this lawsuit means that the Tribe will finally get the fair review that it has been entitled to all along. We are excited to see this project move forward and build a foundation to benefit both the Tribe and State of Wisconsin during these critical economic times.”