Update on Federal Indian Gaming Bill
AUTHOR: Melanie Elsey
April 27 2006
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The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Resources has recently held two hearings on HR 4893 intended to prevent federally recognized Indian tribes from "reservation shopping" -- a term used to describe the practice of acquiring land outside of the reservation (sometimes not even in the same state) for the purpose of operating Indian casinos. Ohio is in the middle of this very experience. The Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma has signed preliminary intergovernmental agreements with multiple communities to place hundreds of acres of land in sovereign status for the purpose of operating Indian casinos. They are hoping to see changes in Ohio law that will allow them to pursue the federal process. HR 4833 is intended to restrict off-reservation gaming. For example, the Secretary of the Interior would be required to "determine that such lands are within the State of such tribe and are within the primary geographic, social, historical, and temporal nexus of the Indian tribe." This requirement would prevent the Eastern Shawnee Tribe from expanding their casinos into Ohio.
Contact your U.S. Congressman and ask him/her to support HR4893 and oppose any potential amendments that would provide a "grandfather" clause exempting the restriction for Tribes currently pursuing off-reservation casinos. The Congressional switchboard is 202-225-3121. Simply ask for your U.S. Congressman's office.