One Arizona tribe has gone to court to try to keep another Arizona tribe from putting land into federal trust to create a competing casino.
The Gila River Indian Community of Arizona last month filed legal papers with a U.S. District Court to try to prevent the Tohono O’odham Nation from putting 135 acres into federal trust, which would allow it to create a competing casino in Glendale, very near to the casino that the Gila River community operates in Sun City.
The Gila River tribe says the reason it opposes the Tohonos is that it has doubts about their legal claims. It calls the tribe’s attempt “reservation shopping.” The Tohonos claim the Gila River Tribe just doesn’t want the competition.
“I wish they would really call it what it is, and as far as I’m concerned, it is an issue of market share,” commented Tohono Tribal Chairman Ned Norris Jr., according to the Arizona Business Gazette.
A spokesman for the Gila River Community retorted, “In the past, every Arizona tribe has respected boundaries and history. It’s disappointing to see the Tohono O’odham Nation treat our culture and aboriginal history like some kind of back-room real-estate deal, where promises are made to be broken.”
An act of Congress in 1986 gave the Tohono the right to buy land in three Arizona counties after a federal dam project flooded some of its reservation. It secretly bought land near Glendale and only recently petitioned the Bureau of Indian Affairs to make the land reservation land. It then sued to get the BIA to move faster on its request after the bureau didn’t act for more than a year.
The Gila River Community is opposing that lawsuit.