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House rejects proposed two tribal casinos in Michigan

House rejects proposed two tribal casinos in Michigan The House sent a clear message on Wednesday with a land-slide defeat of the plan for two Indian casinos in Michigan. The bill was voted down 298-121, after a fiery debate among Michigan's congressional delegation. The bill would have opened the door for two new tribal casinos in the state of Michigan, one in Port Huron and another one Romulus, but met fierce opposition from the three Detroit casinos, as well as other Indian casinos in the state. With Michigan suffering one of the highest unemployment rate, the two regions were left disappointed from the loss of thousands of future jobs. "We will continue to fight to resolve this illegal land taking and bring thousands of much-needed jobs to our state," said Aaron Payment, chairman of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, who along with the Bay Mills Indian Community, would have built the two casinos. "In a dark corner of a Maryland prison, Jack Abramoff is smiling right now. This was his battle and while he wasn't around to finish it, a new batch of lobbyists relied on his tactics to squelch the voices of the people of Michigan," said bill supporter  Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn. The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, which runs one of the nation's largest tribal casinos in Mount Pleasant (The Soaring Eagle), was among the opponents, and some lawmakers noted that the tribe was once represented by disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

 The bill would provide land for the two new casinos in exchange for the settling of 110 acres of land claims around Charlotte Beach in the Upper Peninsula, which was allowed to be sold at a tax sale. Only Congress has the authority to settle land claims. The deal with the state, reached in 2002, would have settled the tribes' claims to land in the eastern Upper Peninsula that they said the federal government wrongly sold off in the mid-1800s.

 Published on 06/26/2008

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