State of Alaska Seeks to Prevent Native Village of Eklutna from Bringing a Casino to Tribal Lands

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State of Alaska Seeks to Prevent Native Village of Eklutna from Bringing a Casino to Tribal Lands
Alaska seeks to block opening of Elkunta casino

As reported several days ago, the Alaskan state government has asked for permission to be fully included in a lawsuit on a federal level which is seeking ways to prevent one tribal entity from bringing a casino venue. The region in question here is the Native Village of Eklutna which is planning to bring a casino to its tribal lands which are located around twenty miles from Anchorage.

Eklutna is a small native village located within the Anchorage municipality in the state of Alaska. As estimated by the Tribal Council, the village’s population is around seventy individuals as many tribal members reside in the Eklutna surrounding communities. The Native Village of Eklutna located near the intersection of the Alaska Railroad and the Glenn Highway is the last of eight similar villages that existed before the Alaska Railroad construction started.

The construction of the Alaska Railroad at the time brought a massive influx of colonists who settled in this area over eight hundred years ago. The village is also one of the oldest inhabited areas in the entire Anchorage Municipality. The village first appears on the U.S. Census in 1930 and of its then one hundred and fifty-eight residents, sixty-one of them were Native while today the overall population is around seventy people.

The Native Village of Eklutna Filing a Lawsuit

As reported by the Anchorage Daily News outlet in August, tribal officials of the Native Village of Eklutna decided to file a lawsuit against the region’s federal government after it has been denied necessary permissions to construct and run a casino venue of Class II in the Chugiak community. This planned casino venue supposed to feature a massive Las Vegas-style casino floor with loads of less lucrative pull-tab and bingo entertainments without more popular games such as slots, roulette, and blackjack as these are currently illegal under the state’s federal laws.

The same newspaper which shared the news in August also revealed that after being denied necessary permissions by the federal government, the Native Village of Eklutna decided to head to federal court. This move came as a direct result of the United States Department of the Interior’s opinion that the land site for the planned casino venue cannot qualify as Indian tribal lands according to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act’s percepts form 1988. Shortly after being denied permissions, the Native Village of Eklutna’s legal action was lodged with the US District Court operating for the District of Columbia and today, it awaits a date for further consideration.

The State of Alaska Included in the Legal Action as a Defendant

Just recently, the Anchorage Daily News shared that the state’s Assistant Attorney General Mrs. Harrison has asked that the state of Alaska gets included in the legal action as a defendant so it can intervene on the federal government side so that the two can together prevent the proposed casino facility from being constructed and consequently opened.

The state’s Assistant Attorney General also proclaimed that the federal opinion from August 2018 regarding the territorial jurisdiction of tribes in Alaska in general and that the legal action from the native village’s represents just another challenge to the federal authority over the state’s native allotments. The newspaper report concluded that the Native Village of Eklutna did not qualify for casino permission under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and that this is the only issue.

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