In the Headlines
August 31, 2021

8th Circ. Says Law Didn't Block Land Move For Tribal Casino


Native American Law attorney James Meggesto was quoted in a Law360 article about an Eighth Circuit decision backing the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska's right to operate its casino across the Iowa border. The court ruled that while the Ponca Restoration Act of 1990 required the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to take land in Nebraska's Knox and Boyd counties into trust for the Ponca, there was nothing in the law that kept the secretary from also acquiring land outside those counties for the tribe, including the casino's site in Carter Lake, Iowa.

While the Restoration Act mandated that the tribe would get at least 1,500 acres in Knox and Boyd counties, the circuit court's decision recognized "that was never meant to be the only land they got," Mr. Meggesto said.

The Indian Reorganization Act allows the secretary to take land into trust for tribes, and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act allows a tribe to offer gaming on trust lands deemed to have been restored to a tribe. In this case, the National Indian Gaming Commission's (NIGC) ruled on multiple occasions that the tribe's gambling in Carter Lake was allowed under Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) because the facility is located on "restored land" that was taken into trust to compensate for historical wrongs.

Mr. Meggesto, who represents the Ponca tribe, said that the case is "all but over," as the NIGC's decision on remand — which the Eighth Circuit didn't rule on in its opinion — only slightly changed the commission's previous analysis of the factors supporting its decision that the Carter Lake site qualified as restored land under IGRA.

READ: 8th Circ. Says Law Didn't Block Land Move For Tribal Casino

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