Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne rejected the tribe’s land-into-trust application for the project, citing its noncompliance with 2008 guidelines that discourage approval of off-reservation casinos outside of a “commutable distance” from a tribe’s reservation.
The tribe has a lawsuit pending against the government, contending these guidelines are an illegal attempt to quash off-reservation casinos. Kempthorne’s decision came days before his term expires Jan. 20, when the Bush administration leaves office.
Racine’s newspaper, the Journal Times, reports that the tribe intends to continue its fight to build the gambling complex. Their story quotes Lisa Waukau, chairwoman of the Menominee Indians of Wisconsin:
In a statement released Wednesday, Waukau said the Interior Department’s decision was “not based on facts or the law” and said the tribe will pursue litigation.
Both stories note that the tribe will resubmit its application to the incoming Obama administration, which has nominated Ken Salazar as its Secretary of the Interior.