TOPEKA – (March 10, 2015) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has asked a court to overturn a federal government determination that would clear the way for the Quapaw Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma to conduct gaming on a small strip of land in Cherokee County.
The lawsuit, filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court in Topeka, asks the court to declare that the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) acted arbitrarily and exceeded its statutory authority when it found that the Quapaw Tribe’s current presence in the State of Kansas allows the tribe to conduct gaming in Kansas.
“When the tribe requested that the land be taken into trust, it told the federal government that the property would be used for non-gaming purposes, namely a parking lot,” Schmidt said. “In spite of this, the tribe almost immediately requested an opinion from the NIGC to allow gaming on the property. We believe the tribe should be held to its word that the land would not be used for gaming, and the federal government should follow the law in allowing the state to have its voice heard on how the land will be used.”
The Quapaw Tribe purchased a 124-acre tract in Cherokee County along the state’s southern border in 2006. In 2011 the Tribe asked the Bureau of Indian Affairs that the property be placed into trust for non-gaming purposes and asserted that the land was to be used for a parking lot. Over the objection of the state, the land was accepted into trust by the federal government in 2012. In late 2014, the NIGC issued a determination that the land qualified for gaming under the “last recognized reservation exception” to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Under the act, the governor of a state has a statutory right to concur or veto gaming on lands acquired after October 17, 1988.
The case is State of Kansas, ex rel. Derek Schmidt, Attorney General, State of Kansas, et al. v. National Indian Gaming Commission, et al., in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, Case No. 15-cv-4857-RDR-KGS. The Board of County Commissioners of Cherokee County joined Schmidt in filing the case.