January 31, 2011
TULSA, Okla. (January 31, 2011) – The Osage Nation announced Monday that all three land-into-trust applications for its casinos in Tulsa, Skiatook and Ponca City have been submitted for review and approval by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The final application, for the Tulsa casino, was submitted Monday, Jan. 24.
While awaiting a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court about whether it will hear the Osage Nation’s case regarding its reservation status, the Nation decided to take the necessary steps to ensure the three casinos remain open.
Osage Nation Principal Chief John Red Eagle applauded the work of U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and the Department of the Interior for the way they have handled the process.
“We continue to receive very good news from the Department of Interior about the progress of our land-into-trust applications,” Red Eagle said. “The Department’s approval process, in this instance, may be a matter of weeks rather than months, barring any unforeseen problems. That is unprecedented. The Osage Nation is extremely grateful to Secretary Salazar and his staff at all levels for this speedy process.”
The Osage Nation has contended it has a federally-recognized reservation, which does not require its casinos to be located on land that has been placed in trust. The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Osage Nation’s claim that it is a federally-recognized reservation in March 2010, and denied the Nation’s request for rehearing in May 2010. The Court instead ruled in favor of The Oklahoma Tax Commission, which said the reservation was disestablished, but failed to identify clear language in any act of Congress which supports that claim.
The Tulsa and Ponca City applications are currently being reviewed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ regional office in Muskogee prior to being forwarded to Washington, D.C. for approval.
The Skiatook application is currently under review in Washington, D.C., and the Ponca City application could be forwarded there as early as this week.