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6/7/2013

County challenges federal decision favoring tribal land claim

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Mary Keltz, Public Information Outreach
Phone: (360) 397-6012 ext. 4
mary.keltz@clark.wa.gov

Vancouver, WA Ė Clark County is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court challenging the U.S. Department of the Interiorís most recent decision to take land into trust on behalf of the Cowlitz Tribe for gaming near La Center.

The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Other plaintiffs include the city of Vancouver, Citizens Against Reservation Shopping and four La Center cardrooms.

The complaint argues Department of the Interior acted unlawfully because it took land into trust for the Cowlitz Tribe even though the tribe was not federally recognized prior to 1934, as required by statute. The department acted arbitrarily and capriciously by failing to adequately consider the projectís impacts on the environment, the complaint states.

The lawsuit also challenges the departmentís determination that the tribe has a significant historical connection to the 152 acres taken into trust.

The federal court will consider briefs from the parties during the next several months. The matter is likely to go to a hearing late this year.

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