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‘We have no intention of giving up,’ Tribal Chairperson says

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
July 26, 2017
Contact: Roger Martin,
517-485-6600
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This statement is from Aaron Payment, chairperson of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. It is in response to a letter received Wednesday by the Sault Tribe from the U.S. Department of the Interior denying the Tribe’s trust land applications involving property in Lansing and Wayne County’s Huron Township, Michigan. (A full copy of the letter is available on request.)

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — “We are deeply disappointed in the U.S. DOI’s decision to deny our mandatory trust land petitions for Lansing and Romulus, largely because it is based on a flawed legal analysis and because our Land Claims Settlement Act approved by the Congress of the United States in 1997 clearly requires that the applications be approved. We have no intention of giving up, and we will soon determine which option — legal, administrative or legislative — we will pursue to continue our fight for our legal rights. The law is clear: the Secretary is required to accept these parcels in trust. It is a clear, plain-language legal argument. Our Tribe is within federal law and our legal rights to pursue these opportunities to create thousands of new jobs and generate millions of dollars in new revenues that will enhance our tribal land base and benefit our members, the people of Lansing, public school students in Lansing, the people of Huron Township, and the entire state.”

Background Information:
For reporters unfamiliar with this issue, here is some background information: In June 2014 the Sault Tribe filed submissions with the U.S. Department of the Interior to take land into trust in downtown Lansing and in southeast Michigan’s Huron Township. The land in Lansing will become the location of a new gaming resort first proposed by the Tribe and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero in January 2012. The land includes two parcels totaling about 2.7 acres at Michigan Avenue and North Cedar Street adjacent to and near the Lansing Center, the city’s convention and events facility. The Tribe anticipates the land in Huron Township, totaling 71 acres at 36181 Sibley Road and I-275 southwest of Metro Airport, will also serve as a gaming location. The scope of the gaming project in Huron Township will be determined by an economic impact study. At least three federal court developments cleared the way for the Tribe to file the applications:
— On Dec. 18, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that the Sault Tribe could seek Department of Interior approval of its Lansing casino.
— On May 27, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a somewhat similar case that the State of Michigan could not block the Bay Mills Tribe from opening a casino on land not part of its gaming compact with the state.
— Also in 2014, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette withdrew from the U.S. Supreme Court a lawsuit that effectively blocked the filing of the applications.
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Denial Letter from Interior Dept.

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Photo by Ken Bosma / CC BY