The last time the Bureau of Indian Affairs looked at the proposal by the Jemez Pueblo Indians to build a casino in Anthony, New Mexico, it rejected it. But that was under another administration. The Obama administration looks at requests to put land into trust differently than the Bush administration did. Last month the BIA announced it was reviewing the case.
The tribe wants to build a $72 million casino with a hotel on 100 acres just off Interstate 10 and not too far from El Paso. The BIA turned it down in 2008 on the grounds that the land is 293 miles from the reservation. Attempting to site casinos hundreds of miles from a reservation is a controversial practice known by its critics as “reservation shopping.”
That hop from its traditional homeland has earned the ire of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, which claims the proposal is “an intrusion” and that Anthony is within the ancestral homelands of Mescalero Apache tribal peoples.
The tribe argues that the reservation is too remote to be able to attract customers to a casino. Tourism is non-existent and the tribe has almost no revenue to care for its 2,600 members, says tribal Governor Joshua Madalena. It depends almost entirely on federal grants. A casino could employ as many as 100, most of them from the tribe.