Herrera Beutler questions feds actions on Cowlitz casino

first_imgU.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler sent a letter Monday to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, questioning why Jewell’s department would make a promise to the Cowlitz Tribe to take land into trust for a reservation while the legality of the land transfer remains tied up in federal court.Last month, an acting assistant attorney general filed notice in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., alerting the judge and plaintiffs that the Department of the Interior, one of the defendants in the case, “will acquire the approximately 151.87 acres of land in Clark County, Washington, in trust for the benefit of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe no sooner than the earlier of Jan. 21, 2015, or thirty days after a court order granting summary judgment in favor of defendants.”Tribal Chairman William Iyall heralded the decision as a significant moment in Cowlitz history, given that the tribe has been fighting for a dozen years to establish a reservation west of La Center. Herrera Beutler, however, wrote in her letter that the premature decision sets a bad precedent and “has become a great source of concern and confusion in Southwest Washington.” “For this acquisition to take place while the court is still considering a case to determine whether the department even has the authority to take this land into trust is not only a major shift in the department policy, but also potentially a violation of federal law,” she wrote.last_img read more