Washington Casino Case Goes to Appeals Court

A battle between two Washington gaming tribes over whether the Cowlitz tribe can build a casino on land near Portland recently put into trust is now before a federal appeals court. The casino is opposed by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, whose existing casino is 70 miles away from the proposed casino.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is considering the case of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, which wants to build on a former 150 acre dairy farm on land in Washington State recently put into trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Cowlitz plan to build a casino resort on the land.

That decision is being appealed by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, who argue that the Cowlitz tribe should not be allowed to have reservation land so far from its historical lands. The Cowlitz tribe achieved recognition in 2002.

Last year a federal court ruled for the Cowlitz tribe The Confederated tribes appealed and the federal government finalized the transfer of land despite the appeal.

According to Rob Greene, an attorney for the Grand Ronde: “You can’t take history and transport it to someplace else and then call it your own. And that’s the difference here. If they were doing this up along the Cowlitz River, we would be completely supportive of that.”

The tribe’s main objection is that the Cowlitz tribe’s casino would be too close to its casino, which is 70 miles from the Cowlitz casino, which would be located near Interstate 5, 20 miles from Portland, Oregon.