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H.R. 2938 (112th): Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Clarification Act

The text of the bill below is as of Jun 19, 2012 (Passed the House).



2d Session

H. R. 2938



To prohibit certain gaming activities on certain Indian lands in Arizona.


Short title

This Act may be cited as the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Clarification Act.



Congress finds the following:


In 1986, Congress passed the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Act, Public Law 99–503, 100 Stat. 1798, to authorize the Tohono O’odham Nation to purchase up to 9,880 acres of replacement lands in exchange for granting all right, title and interest to the Gila Bend Indian Reservation to the United States.


The intent of the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Act was to replace primarily agriculture land that the Tohono O’odham Nation was no longer able to use due to flooding by Federal dam projects.


In 1988, Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which restricted the ability of Indian tribes to conduct gaming activities on lands acquired after the date of enactment of the Act.


Since 1986, the Tohono O’odham Nation has purchased more than 16,000 acres of land. The Tohono O’odham Nation does not currently game on any lands acquired pursuant to the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Act.


Beginning in 2003, the Tohono O’odham Nation began taking steps to purchase approximately 134.88 acres of land near 91st and Northern Avenue in Maricopa County, within the City of Glendale (160 miles from the Indian tribe’s headquarters in Sells). The Tohono O’odham Nation is now trying to have these lands taken into trust status by the Secretary of the Interior pursuant to the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Act of 1986 (Gila Bend Act), and has asked the Secretary to declare these lands eligible for gaming, thereby allowing the Indian tribe to conduct Las Vegas style gaming on the lands. The Secretary has issued an opinion stating that he has the authority to take approximately 53.54 acres of these lands into trust status, and plans to do so when legally able to do so.


The State of Arizona, City of Glendale, and at least 12 Indian tribes in Arizona oppose the Tohono O’odham Nation gaming on these lands. No Indian tribe supports the Tohono O’odham Nation’s efforts to conduct gaming on these lands.


The Tohono O’odham Nation’s proposed casino violates existing Tribal-State gaming compacts and State law, Proposition 202, agreed to by all Arizona Indian tribes, which effectively limits the number of tribal gaming facilities in the Phoenix metropolitan area to seven, which is the current number of facilities operating.


The Tohono O’odham casino proposal will not generate sales taxes as the State Gaming Compact specifically prohibits the imposition of any taxes, fees, charges, or assessments.


The proposed casino would be located close to existing neighborhoods and a newly built school and raises a number of concerns. Homeowners, churches, schools, and businesses made a significant investment in the area without knowing that a tribal casino would or even could locate within the area.


The development has the potential to impact the future of transportation projects, including the Northern Parkway, a critical transportation corridor to the West Valley.


The Tohono O’odham Nation currently operates three gaming facilities: 2 in the Tucson metropolitan area and 1 in Why, Arizona.


Nothing in the language or legislative history of the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Act indicates that gaming was an anticipated use of the replacement lands.


It is the intent of Congress to clarify that lands purchased pursuant to the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Act are not eligible for Class II and Class III gaming pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Such lands may be used for other forms of economic development by the Tohono O’odham Nation.


Gaming clarification

Section 6(d) of Public Law 99–503 is amended by inserting except that no class II or class III gaming activities, as defined in section 4 of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (25 U.S.C. 2703), may be conducted on such land if such land is located north of latitude 33 degrees, 4 minutes north after shall be deemed to be a Federal Indian Reservation for all purposes.


No effect

The limitation on gaming set forth in the amendment made by section 3 shall have no effect on any interpretation, determination, or decision to be made by any court, administrative agency or department, or other body as to whether any lands located south of latitude 33 degrees, 4 minutes north taken into trust pursuant to this Act qualify as lands taken into trust as part of a settlement of a land claim for purposes of title 25 U.S.C. 2719(b).

Passed the House of Representatives June 19, 2012.

Karen L. Haas,