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State petitions to join suit over Park City casino plan

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, Sep. 22, 2011, at 12:07 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, July 8, 2014, at 7:23 a.m.

The state seeks to intervene in a federal lawsuit with the aim of blocking efforts by the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma to build a casino in Park City.

The tribe sued the secretary of the U.S. Interior Department in July, accusing it of failing to take the tribe's 10.5 acres in Park City into trust for the casino.

Wednesday, state Attorney General Derek Schmidt asked to join the lawsuit.

"The State contends that the federal government's land trust obligations to the Wyandotte Nation were fulfilled by the tribe's facility in Kansas City, Kan.," Schmidt said in a written statement.

"We have petitioned the court to allow Kansas to join in this case to ensure the State's sovereign interests are protected."

The Wyandotte Nation was allowed to buy land for a casino under a law Congress passed in 1984 based on the tribe's claim it never was properly reimbursed for land the government took from it in Sandusky, Ohio, in 1843.

The state contends that the tribe used its allotment to buy a former Shriner building in downtown Kansas City for its 7th Street Casino.

That means the Interior secretary has discretion to deny the tribe's land-in-trust application for a Park City casino, according to the state.

The tribe contends that because it used some of the settlement money to buy its Park City land in 1992, before it bought the Kansas City tract in 1996, the Interior secretary must take the land into trust.

The Wyandotte Nation's land-in-trust application has been pending in the department since January 2009, after spending three years at a regional office in Oklahoma.

Construction is under way on a state-owned casino in Mulvane.

That casino is scheduled to open early in 2012.

Reach Fred Mann at 316-268-6310 or fmann@wichitaeagle.com.

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