Phoenix, AZ – The Tohono O'odham Nation bought 135 acres of land adjacent to
Glendale in 2003. While that is far from the reservation in
Southern Arizona, the purchase was permitted by Congress after a
federal dam project flooded nearly 10,000 acres of other tribal
lands. The Gila River Indian Community, which now has the closest
casino, sued after federal officials gave the go-ahead for the
Tohono to annex the parcel into the reservation, a necessary
first step for a casino. Now the Gila River community is arguing
that the Tohono purchased the Glendale land illegally in the
first place. Tribal spokesman David Liebowitz said that's because
it had already bought other lands with the cash it got.
(It gives them $30 million and says you can take this money and
use this money to purchase land, not to exceed 9,880 acres. And
they took that money and purchased more land with that money than
they were authorized to buy under the Gila Bend Act.)
But Tohono spokesman Matt Smith said that's misreading the law.
He said the tribe got $30 million in compensation to purchase
whatever lands it wanted. Smith said that 9,880 acre limit is
only how much of that can become part of the reservation. For
Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.