Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

Wyandotte win another legal round in federal court

KANSAS CITY, Kan. ñ A federal district court has ruled that land owned by the Wyandotte Nation fits within the guidelines of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and that gaming is acceptable on the trust land.

The nation appealed a ruling by the National Indian Gaming Commission that argued the tract of land in Kansas City did not meet the settlement of land claim exception to IGRA that sets a gaming prohibition on land acquired after Oct. 17, 1988. The court reversed the NIGC ruling and sent it back for proceedings that are consistent with the courtís order.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson wrote that the NIGC ruling was arbitrary, capricious and otherwise not in accordance with the law.

The Wyandotte Nation opened a Class II gaming facility on land referred to as the Shriner tract, but following the NIGC ruling the state of Kansas moved in with law enforcement and removed 153 gaming devices in 2004.

This ruling gives the Wyandotte the go-ahead to resume gaming in Kansas City. The Wyandotte Nation has celebrated three victories in as many months over this issue.

ìThis latest victory completes a litigation trifecta in favor of the Wyandotte Nation. The federal courts have now held that the Nationís Shriner Tract was appropriately taken into trust by the Secretary of Interior, that the state of Kansas lacks jurisdiction over gaming activities on the Shriner Tract, and, now, that the Shriner Tract qualifies for gaming under federal law.

ìThe fact that these victories have come after a decade of court battles is a tremendous tribute to the courage and perseverance of the Wyandotte Nation,î said Conly Schulte, counsel to the Wyandotte Nation and partner in the law firm of Monteau & Peebles LLP.

The Wyandotte Nation was originally the Huron who were located in Canada and moved south into Ohio and Pennsylvania. Through a series of cessation treaties and removals, the Wyandotte Nation moved to what is now Kansas. Land dealings with other tribes and the federal government gave the Wyandotte Nation land on what is now called Kansas City. It was at one time named Wyandotte.

Removal to Oklahoma took some tribal members away from their land in Kansas yet the land remained in trust.

After termination attempts and reinstatements, the land was again designed trust land after Oct. 17, 1988. IGRA states that land taken into trust after that date cannot be used for gaming purposes.

Robinson, in her written opinion, noted that the Interior secretary allowed gaming to take place on land occupied by the Seneca Nation. That land also was part of a land claim settlement. The similarity was one part of Robinsonís reasoning in awarding the decision to the Wyandotte Nation.

The land is also part of a treaty agreement that was not honored by the federal government.

At issue is the fact that settlement funds were used to purchase some of the land, also, according to the NIGC, a reason not to allow gaming on that particular parcel.

The court, however, found that it was proper in this case as it was in the Seneca case that land purchased was within the boundaries of their original homeland.

The court found that in the Wyandotte case, a lawsuit filed in the Indian Court of Claims was ruled in favor of the Wyandotte Nation in 1984 and it was determined that after per capita payments to the members, funds left over could be used to purchase land that would be held in trust.

The NIGC argued that the Wyandotte did not have a historical claim to the area in question because the tribe moved from one location to another, finally ending in Oklahoma.

The tribe occupied the tract of land in Kansas City from 1843 to 1855, and the NIGC asserted that 11 years does not constitute a historical connection to that particular parcel of land.

The Wyandotte, however, argue that the tract of land lies within the original boundaries of the reservation set aside for them. The tribeís argument also points to the fact that it was the federal government that forced the members to move into Indian Territory in Oklahoma.

It is not clear whether the Wyandotte Nation will resume gaming at the Kansas City location. The court clearly allows that activity to happen.

The state of Kansas, which was involved two years ago, has been enjoined from interfering in the matter by the federal court.

KANSAS CITY, Kan. ñ A federal district court has ruled that land owned by the Wyandotte Nation fits within the guidelines of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and that gaming is acceptable on the trust land.The nation appealed a ruling by the National Indian Gaming Commission that argued the tract of land in Kansas City did not meet the settlement of land claim exception to IGRA that sets a gaming prohibition on land acquired after Oct. 17, 1988. The court reversed the NIGC ruling and sent it back for proceedings that are consistent with the courtís order.U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson wrote that the NIGC ruling was arbitrary, capricious and otherwise not in accordance with the law.The Wyandotte Nation opened a Class II gaming facility on land referred to as the Shriner tract, but following the NIGC ruling the state of Kansas moved in with law enforcement and removed 153 gaming devices in 2004.This ruling gives the Wyandotte the go-ahead to resume gaming in Kansas City. The Wyandotte Nation has celebrated three victories in as many months over this issue.ìThis latest victory completes a litigation trifecta in favor of the Wyandotte Nation. The federal courts have now held that the Nationís Shriner Tract was appropriately taken into trust by the Secretary of Interior, that the state of Kansas lacks jurisdiction over gaming activities on the Shriner Tract, and, now, that the Shriner Tract qualifies for gaming under federal law.ìThe fact that these victories have come after a decade of court battles is a tremendous tribute to the courage and perseverance of the Wyandotte Nation,î said Conly Schulte, counsel to the Wyandotte Nation and partner in the law firm of Monteau & Peebles LLP.The Wyandotte Nation was originally the Huron who were located in Canada and moved south into Ohio and Pennsylvania. Through a series of cessation treaties and removals, the Wyandotte Nation moved to what is now Kansas. Land dealings with other tribes and the federal government gave the Wyandotte Nation land on what is now called Kansas City. It was at one time named Wyandotte.Removal to Oklahoma took some tribal members away from their land in Kansas yet the land remained in trust.After termination attempts and reinstatements, the land was again designed trust land after Oct. 17, 1988. IGRA states that land taken into trust after that date cannot be used for gaming purposes.Robinson, in her written opinion, noted that the Interior secretary allowed gaming to take place on land occupied by the Seneca Nation. That land also was part of a land claim settlement. The similarity was one part of Robinsonís reasoning in awarding the decision to the Wyandotte Nation.The land is also part of a treaty agreement that was not honored by the federal government. At issue is the fact that settlement funds were used to purchase some of the land, also, according to the NIGC, a reason not to allow gaming on that particular parcel. The court, however, found that it was proper in this case as it was in the Seneca case that land purchased was within the boundaries of their original homeland.The court found that in the Wyandotte case, a lawsuit filed in the Indian Court of Claims was ruled in favor of the Wyandotte Nation in 1984 and it was determined that after per capita payments to the members, funds left over could be used to purchase land that would be held in trust.The NIGC argued that the Wyandotte did not have a historical claim to the area in question because the tribe moved from one location to another, finally ending in Oklahoma.The tribe occupied the tract of land in Kansas City from 1843 to 1855, and the NIGC asserted that 11 years does not constitute a historical connection to that particular parcel of land.The Wyandotte, however, argue that the tract of land lies within the original boundaries of the reservation set aside for them. The tribeís argument also points to the fact that it was the federal government that forced the members to move into Indian Territory in Oklahoma.It is not clear whether the Wyandotte Nation will resume gaming at the Kansas City location. The court clearly allows that activity to happen.The state of Kansas, which was involved two years ago, has been enjoined from interfering in the matter by the federal court.