KTT case against Department of Interior dismissed
WASHINGTON — On Sept 7, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the Kialegee Tribal Town suit against U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on request from the DOI party.
KTT requested the court grant declaratory and injunctive relief but was dismissed because ‘plaintiff fails to state a claim.’
The court supported the DOI’s argument that KTT still has administrative remedies through Interior Board of Indian Appeals.
The court analysis referenced the fact the KTT failed to ‘identify a source of subject matter jurisdiction, a waiver of sovereign immunity and a cause of action.’ The brief further explained, ‘the United States is immune to suit unless it consents to be sued.’
The court stated, ‘That holding oral argument in this action would not be of assistance in rendering a decision.’
KTT stated in its suit that the tribal town is a successor to MCN and has treaty-protected rights of shared jurisdiction over land within the boundaries of MCN.
In the court documents, the Kialegee cite multiple Creek treaties ranging from Aug. 7, 1790, to Feb. 14, 1833 to support their claims.
KTT also submitted as an exhibit, a letter from National Indian Gaming Commission Chairman Jonodev Chaudhuri to the tribal chairman of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
Court records reflect this was not the first time KTT brought a request for declaratory and injunctive relief.
This is in response to an August 2017 raid on a restaurant and dance hall on a Muscogee (Creek) allotment in Broken Arrow less than a mile from where the KTT previously attempted to open a casino in late 2011.
Court records state tribal town’s complaint, ‘dated Aug. 17, 2017, initially focused more specifically on Defendants’ opposition to the development of the Bruner allotment and Kialegee’s jurisdiction over that land, but because that issue was the subject of an April 26, 2017 decision by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which was appealed to the IBIA (Interior Board of Indian Appeals), and the tribal town had not exhausted its administrative remedies, KTT shifted the focus in its Amended Complaint to an alleged general violation of its rights under various treaties.’
KTT has steadily pursued legal action that would allow a shared jurisdiction with MCN, to secure a gaming license.
The NIGC and its chairman Chaudhuri and former Acting Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs John Tahsuda were initially named as defendants in the Kialegees’ suit but were dropped as KTT amended its complaint.
The NIGC has twice declined to issue KTT a gaming permit for a proposed Broken Arrow casino.
The court agreed with a DOI argument that the matter of KTT jurisdiction, which would directly affect tribal town gaming, lies with an IBIA decision on KTT’s appeal of its previous decision against the tribal town in April 2017.
‘…it may be that in the future, after the IBIA issues it’s final decision, KTT would have an action for which it may want to seek judicial review,’ the DOI stated in the case.