From: alra@governance.net
Subject: Urgent Acton Required -- Updated NIGC and Congress E-mail and Fax Addr

Land Rights Network
American Land Rights Association
PO Box 400
Battle Ground, WA  98604
(360) 687-3087
Fax: (360) 687-2973

Urgent Acton Required -- Updated NIGC and Congress E-mail and Fax Addresses

Fax – Fax -- Fax

The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) will make a decision on the Cowlitz sneak attack likely next week.  

E-mail may be too slow because we don’t know how fast they read their e-mail.

*****We suggest you also fax your letter or comments immediately.  

Below we have listed the fax numbers for Philip Hogen, the NIGC and for other contacts.  Please fax your letter to all of them as quickly as possible.

This is an urgent request.  You have no time to waste.  

Below we have included our letter to NIGC Chairman Philip Hogen again so that if you have not seen it before, you will have it.  Please forward this request as widely as possible so many people can respond quickly.

*****The NIGC must have your letter in their hands by Tuesday.  Fax is the only way we know they will have to at least look at it.  

Please send a copy of any letter you send to ccushman@landrights.org.  If you have questions, you may call Chuck Cushman at (360) 687-3087.

Please note that those e-mail addresses with a space between the names is an underscore.

Philip N. Hogen
National Indian Gaming Commission
Washington National Office
1441 L Street NW, Suite 9100
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 632-7003
Fax: (202) 632-7066

Additional Commissioner e-mail and fax addresses:
Cloyce_choney@nigc.gov    Fax  (202) 632-7066
Nelson_wistrin@nigc.gov     Fax  (202) 632-7066

Additional NIGC Staff

Dear Chairman Hogen:

I am executive director of the American Land Rights Association and the
new National Alliance Against Reservation Shopping.  We are networking
with thousands of like minded citizens and organizations across America.

The Cowlitz tribe from Washington State has submitted a restored lands
application to the National Indian Gaming Commission. The tribe is seeking
to gain restored lands status on a 151 acre parcel located just outside of
Vancouver, Washington on Interstate 5.

The tribe made absolutely NO EFFORT to inform the community about this
application with the NIGC.   All the time they have been publicly stating

The same tribe also has applications into the Bureau of Indian Affairs for
an Initial Reservation and a Trust Application as well.  Obviously, they are
very concerned about their applications with the BIA and have chosen to
secretly file this alternate application with the NIGC.

One of the major criteria for the tribes application is their nexus to the
land in question....the problem is that this tribe has NO HISTORICAL TIE to
this particular area...in fact, they are actually from an area 50 miles to
the north located near the Cowlitz River.

The developers behind this proposal have come into the Vancouver area for one explicit purpose...they want to build one of the largest casinos in the world in the middle of a highly populated area in order to make millions of dollars.....

The Cowlitz Tribe is trying a backhanded way of getting a favorable 
decision on their proposed casino location between Ridgefield and 
La Center, Washington, just north of Portland, Oregon.

The National Indian Gaming Commission appears to be in the final
stages of rendering a decision on the Cowlitz tribes Restored Lands

It is critical that you understand this is a sneak attack on local 
communities in Washington, and across America.

The Cowlitz tribe secretly submitted an application to the National 
Indian Gaming Commission in March of this year....we discovered
their application in early October.

This was taking place while the Cowlitz Tribe is engaging in a BIA EIS 
process in which there are numerous cooperating agencies, none of which 
were notified of this separate action with the NIGC.

If you render a decision without involving the local communities or 
cooperating agencies you will clearly make the call for Congressional 
reform of the entire process more critical and time sensitive.

By rendering a decision allowing the Cowlitz to bypass traditional and
more appropriate routes, you are sending a message to all communities 
that they need to rise up and push Congress, House Resources Chairman
Richard Pombo and Senate Indian Affairs Chairman John McCain to get
remedial legislation passed out of the Congress.

Your decision will have a major impact on our issue and your help is 
needed to ensure that the six affected communities plus communities
all across America feel safe from sneak attacks in our Democratic system.

Your process appears closed and does not provide a mechanism for local 
communities and people to receive notice or comment.  In this case, no
notice has been provided to anyone.  Your process must be opened to 
public review and comment. 

There is a great deal of evidence that this area is not the Cowlitz Tribe's 
indigenous homeland.  The Cowlitz were well north of this area.

The Cowlitz proposal appears to be a gross case of Reservation Shopping.
If you affirm the Cowlitz application, you could do great damage to many 
existing tribes and reservations.  There is a looming backlash against 
Reservation Shopping and Tribal casinos that could threaten even tribal 

This country is about fairness. If you demonstrate that local communities 
and citizens have no control over their own future, the political backlash 
can be laid directly at your feet.

I am hopeful you will take these comments in the manner they are intended.
This is not a threat.  It is simply a realistic analysis of the current 
political climate in the House and Senate and the mood of the public.

Don't fail our Democratic system.

Don't let the Cowlitz sneak through the back door what they cannot get
through the front door.


Chuck Cushman
Executive Director
American Land Rights Association
National Alliance Against Reservation Shopping
PO Box 400
Battle Ground, Washington 98604
(360) 687-3087
Fax:  (360) 687-2973

Congressman Brian Baird
U.S. House of Representatives
1421 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3536
Fax: (202) 225-3478
Email Address: % Pam Brokaw, 

Gale Norton
Secretary of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240
202-208-3100 - office
202-208-6956 - fax
E-Mail: webteam@ios.doi.gov

James Cason
Department of the Interior
Associate Deputy Secretary
1849 C Street N.W.
6113 - MS 7229
Washington DC
202-208-6291 – office
Fax:  (202) 208-1873

Honorable Richard Pombo
House Resources Committee
US  House of Representatives,
Washington, DC 20515
House Resources Committee (202) 225-2761
Fax:  (202) 225-5929

Honorable John McCain
Senate Indian Affairs Committee
US Senate
Washington, DC 10510
(202) 224-2251
Fax:  (202) 224-5429
Staff:  Jeanne_bumpus@indianaffairs.senate.gov
John Tahsuda:  john_tahsuda@indianaffairs.senate.gov

Citizens Against Reservation Shopping
Vancouver, Washington
October 20, 2005

For immediate release


After pledging to work openly on its quest for a casino, the Cowlitz Tribe has instead spent the past seven months secretly pursuing a strategy that has kept local input away from federal decision-makers.

While Clark County groups have been consulting with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), which has been considering the tribe’s March 2004 request for “initial reservation” status, the tribe has been quietly working on a request for “restored lands” status with the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC)—which does not have access to the extensive materials supplied to the BIA.

“This is an outrage,” said Ed Lynch, chairman of Vancouver-based Citizens Against Reservation Shopping (CARS). “Dave Barnett (Cowlitz member and casino developer) told CARS in July that ‘Everything is up front and straightforward.’ Well, I’m here to tell you it isn’t.”

The NIGC confirmed this week that the Cowlitz Tribe submitted an application dated March 15 seeking restored lands qualification as a restored tribe under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Like initial reservation status, restored lands is a means of gaining both the ability to gamble on a site and to evade local participation. The BIA works on applications for initial reservations, and the NIGC renders opinions on restored lands. Both agencies are in the Department of the Interior.

“The tribe must feel that their case is not very strong, if they’re changing horses before a decision on the first application, the initial reservation, is made,” said CARS board member Judie Stanton. “And they are clearly aware that many people locally don’t want this casino.”

The Cowlitz Tribe has teamed up with Connecticut’s Mohegan Tribe to propose a $400 million casino-resort with 160,000 square feet of gaming area plus stores and restaurants, entertainment and conference venues, a 250-room hotel and parking for 8,500 vehicles and 200 RVs. 

Several paths to a casino

An initial reservation designation requires a tribe to prove it has historic, geographic and cultural ties to the land it wants in trust—a challenge for the Cowlitz Tribe, whose historic lands are north of the La Center parcel and whose tribal government is based at Longview. The restored lands designation is less difficult to obtain for tribes who were historically recognized, then terminated and then re-recognized by the federal government. Plus, there is no public comment required.

“What are we to believe?” asked Stanton, who was involved in the memorandum of understanding between the county and the tribe before the tribe requested initial reservation status. “The MOU was written with the understanding that the tribe was pursuing trust status for the land—not an initial reservation and certainly not restored lands. The public deserves to have accurate information.”

The Cowlitz Tribe’s change in strategy came to light after Lynch met with the director of the Office of Indian Gaming Management in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. He was surprised to learn that the tribe was working on a restored lands designation and that the NIGC is on path to make a decision by late November. If the NIGC were to decide that the tribe’s request merits restored lands status, it would forward that opinion to the BIA, which would make the final decision about taking the land at La Center into trust. The NIGC also is considering an ordinance that would allow the tribe to sponsor gaming.

One effect of this change in strategy is that the restored lands decision-maker—the NIGC—has not been receiving evidence from affected governments and concerned citizens groups. In particular, it appears that information on the tribe’s lack of historical connection to Clark County has not been provided to the NIGC. 

“If the tribe really is the good neighbor it claims to be, it would not fear citizen participation in the process,” Lynch said.

Evading local participation

Federal law prohibits gaming on lands acquired in trust after Oct. 17, 1988, unless the application fits one of a few exceptions. One route requires support for gaming at the state and local level. It goes through a two-part process in which the Secretary of the Interior consults with the tribe, state and local officials, including leaders of nearby tribes. If she determines that gaming would not harm the surrounding communities, she approves it and forwards it to the state’s governor for a final decision. This is the route the Cowlitz Tribe has indicated it wants to avoid.

The other exceptions take the authority away from the state and place the final decision in the hands of the secretary of the Interior. These three exceptions, very briefly, make allowances for tribes settling land claims, establishing initial reservations and getting areas within their aboriginal territory restored to them. The Cowlitz Tribe, so far, is pursuing two of these exceptions.

“The tribe is afraid of the truth, because it does not support its claims,” Lynch said. “The truth is that the Indian Claims Commission in 1969 and 1971, and then the BIA in the late nineties declared that the Cowlitz Tribe is not significantly connected to Clark County. Period.” 


Citizens Against Reservation Shopping
Vancouver, Washington


On March 2, 2004, the very day Clark County Commissioners signed an agreement with the Cowlitz Tribe in an effort to mitigate issues that would result if land at La Center were taken into trust, a representative of the tribe attended a La Center City Council meeting and read a statement by Cowlitz tribal chairman John Barnett. It read, in part, “We have always lived up to our word and treated our neighbors with the same respect and integrity we would expect to be shown in return.” 

They must not have expected much of their neighbors. What follows is a timeline showing the evolution of the Cowlitz Tribe’s casino project. It demonstrates an unwillingness to be forthcoming with area communities.

April 2001—David Barnett purchases land just west of the La Center-Interstate 5 interchange.

Jan. 4, 2002—The Cowlitz Tribe is granted federal acknowledgement. 

March 12, 2002—The Cowlitz Tribe applies to place 150 acres at the La Center-Interstate 5 interchange in trust. (The Department of the Interior later returns this application and requires the tribe state a specific land use and declare whether the land will ever be used for gaming. )

	At the time, David Barnett, son of tribal chairman John Barnett, is quoted in The Oregonian saying, “We are not doing a casino. We have no plans to do a casino. We are recently recognized, and we want to make sure that everyone knows, including our neighbors, that we are good people and that we are good stewards of the land.” He adds that the tribe might use the land for a cultural enterprise like Tillicum Village near Seattle. 

October 2003—A draft environmental assessment being prepared by the Cowlitz Tribe for the U.S. Department of the Interior includes a 41,800-square-foot casino enterprise. The facility description has 12,500 square feet of gaming floor plus a restaurant and a gift shop, and parking for 350 cars. An introduction to the EA says that the tribe did not want to rule out gaming because “the tribe did not wish to exclude any potentially lawful use of the subject lands.” 

March 2, 2004—Not knowing the Cowlitz Tribe’s exact intentions for the site, Clark County Commissioners sign a memorandum of understanding that requires the Cowlitz Tribe to compensate the county for property and sales taxes that the tribe, as a sovereign entity, would otherwise not have to pay and to comply with local ordinances concerning building and health codes.

March 12, 2004—Clark County is notified by the Bureau of Indian Affairs that the tribe has requested the La Center parcel be named its initial reservation for gaming purposes.

April 2, 2004—Clark County commissioners send a letter to the BIA making clear their surprise and disappointment in the Cowlitz Tribe’s application for initial reservation status—and their concern about casino-driven development at a junction that had been intended for commercial and industrial uses that would bring family-wage jobs to the northern part of the county.

July 26, 2004—The Cowlitz Tribe announces its partnership with the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut.

Nov. 12, 2004—The Federal Register publishes notice of the BIA’s intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Cowlitz casino project. It spells out the tribe’s proposal “for approximately 160,000 square feet of gaming floor, 210,000 square feet of restaurant and retail facilities, 150,000 square feet of convention and entertainment facilities, an approximately 250 room hotel, tribal governmental offices, a tribal cultural center and approximately 10 to 25 housing units. The proposed development would also include parking facilities for approximately 8,500 vehicles for patrons and employees, and an RV park with approximately 200 RV spaces.”

March 15, 2005—The Cowlitz Tribe quietly applies for restored lands status with the National Indian Gaming Commission.

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