On February 27, 2008, Alex Skibine, a professor at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, will present testimony to the Committee on Natural Resources of the U.S. House of Representatives. The Hearing is on the Department of Interior’s decisions relating to taking off-reservation land in trust for the benefit of Indian tribes for the purpose of gaming.
As Skibine relates, on January 3, 2008, the Secretary of the Interior issued a Guidance Document making it much more difficult for Indian tribes to open new gaming casinos on tribal lands not located within commuting distance of Indian reservations. The following day, the Secretary issued 11 decisions refusing to take land in trust in order to allow these 11 Indian tribes to use such off-reservation land for the purpose of gaming.
“I am arguing that these decisions were arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act,” Skibine says. “For one thing, the decisions erroneously conclude that tribal casinos located beyond commuting distances from the tribes’ reservations will not benefit the Indian tribes. The decisions also err in focusing solely on the impact of gaming on reservation Indians when these days, well over half the Indian population no longer live within Indian reservations.”