Michigan Indian Casino Turned Down By Federal Government

Michigan Indian In a repeat of the same sad story seen in state after state, Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and the Department of the Interior have continued their policy of rejecting applications for new Indian casinos, using any excuse necessary to serve a political agenda. The latest case involves the Potawatomi Indians and their plans for a casino in Romulus, Michigan, outside Detroit.

In replying to the proposal to build the casino, the Bureau of Indian Affairs sent a message that has become basically a form letter; just fill in the blanks with the name of the tribe and the city, and the content is identical to that sent to tribes in New York, New Mexico, California, Washington, and across the nation. The government’s finding is that the suggested casino location is too far from reservation lands to benefit the tribe.

The Potawatomi, situated in the remote areas of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, are 450 miles from Romulus, which is near the Detroit airport. The tribe currently owns the Island Resort and Casino on its reservation, but the inaccessibility of the location have prevented the casino from providing the revenue the Potawatomi need to cover essential governmental services.

The city of Romulus shared in the disappointment. The town’s voters had passed a resolution supporting the introduction of a casino to the area in 2003, and the expected yield from the Indian casino would have included 3300 permanent jobs.

“The decision is wrong and we are carefully reviewing our options. We are in this for the long haul and strongly believe this project is beneficial to the tribe, the community and the state,” said tribal spokesman Chris DeWitt.

As usual, the Department of the Interior argues the location would draw tribal members off reservation lands, hurting the community. The government seems blind to the benefits received through the revenue the casino would generate, and does not appreciate that a job anywhere is preferable to the poverty and unemployment found for decades on reservations throughout the country.

Many have suggested Kempthorne is continuing to enforce the anti-gambling stance he had when he was governor of Idaho.

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