Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

May 27, 2010

Host: Ted Simons

Glendale Casino Opponents

  • Attorney for the City of Glendale Craig Tindall and Manuel Joseph, Lt. Governor of the Gila River Indian Community, explain their opposition to the Tohono O’odham Nation’s plans to build a resort casino on land in the West Valley.
  • Craig Tindall - Attorney, City of Glendale
  • Joseph Manuel - Lt. Governor, Gila River Indian Community
Category: Business/Economy

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight on "Horizon," hear from those against the idea of putting a casino in Glendale. And I'll talk about the safety of travel to Mexico with a Sonoran tourism official.

That's next on "Horizon."

Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons.

Another Maricopa County official moves toward filing a lawsuit against sheriff Joe Arpaio and former county attorney Andrew Thomas. Supervisor Mary rose Wilcox filed a notice of claim that's the first step in filing a suit. Wilcox is seeking $4.75 million because of a criminal investigation against her that was later dismissed.

The Tohono O'Odham nation wants to build a casino on land it owns near the cardinals stadium in Glendale. The effort is opposed by the city of Glendale and the Gila River Indian community. Yesterday I spoke with a Tohono O'Odham official about the casino. Here now to address the issue from the other side is Craig Tindall, a city of Glendale attorney, and Joseph Manuel, lieutenant governor of the Gila River Indian community. Thank you for joining us on "Horizon."

Thank you.

Ted Simons:
Let's get right to it. Why should the Tohono O'Odham nation not build a casino on that land?

Joseph Manuel:
Well, two reasons, mainly. To formally introduce myself as I need to, because of my cultural heritage. My name is Joseph Manuel lieutenant governor of Gila River Indian community, and I want to thank you and also want to welcome you to our aboriginal land. This land here that we sit on in Phoenix, 1850s, was executive ordered -- of course we've been here for thousands of years, but our people, the Pimas, have always been here from time in memorial. We were born in these riverbeds, in the salt and gila rivers, and then as legal mains came on, executive orders and then the Indian reservations in 1938, legally, then we became what we were -- salt river Indian community became the Gila River, but we're all relatives in that respect. But your question, to the point, the reasons why we -- our concern is two. One is aboriginal lands that are ours, you know, through the Indian claims commission, and noted very well. And the other is because we really believe that -- and we know that it's going to hurt the compact, the 202 compact and all the Indian tribes and what the promise that was made at that time in 202.
Ted Simons:
OK. From where you sit, the city of Glendale, why should this casino not be built?

Craig Tindall:
Well, there's several reasons. Certainly we respect very highly the community's position with respect to their aboriginal lands. That's very important for us to acknowledge. But from the city's standpoint specifically, this raises a lot of jurisdictional issues, it raises significant issues with respect to our economic base, the infrastructure that we'll have to put in without any compensation to support this very large facility that's going to go in. If the Tohono O'Odham proposal is accepted. So it raises many issues, and in addition it raises social issues with the communities out there. This is different than the other reservation plans who have done a very good job in working with local communities. This is a brand-new reservation on a very small area, and an urbanized area that has a very significant impact on the local community.

Ted Simons:
We had chairman Norris on this week, and I asked him why this particular land and why a casino there. And he said essentially, the United States government made a promise to the nation after the flooded lands and the idea of being able to buy unincorporated land in Maricopa County for economic development, these sorts of things, and they are simply doing what the U.S. government has allowed them to do.

Craig Tindall:
There's a couple issues I have with that. Number one, the government's promise was very specifically premised on several different aspects that are important in this issue, with respect to the land that they would have taken into trust. One of the most important issues is it lies outside the corporate limits of a city or town. This land lies -- is completely surrounded by the city of Glendale on all sides. And it is in the middle of a community. And if you read the gila bend act completely, that's the federal act, it has a much longer title, I'll just say gila bend act, it's easier to remember, but it has very specific aspects to the land that we don't believe this particular parcel qualifies whatsoever to that land. So -- and respect to the promise that the federal government made, I think that what you need to also understand, and what people need to understand is that there is an issue of sovereignty with respect to the state government, and with respect to the local communities. And so just looking at what the promises the federal government made dismisses some of those completely, and I think those are important aspects that should be understood.

Ted Simons:
I want to get back to your initial response regarding ancestral heritage, these sorts of things, and the right of certain people on certain lands to do certain things. Talk to us more about that.

Joseph Manuel:
Well, you know, the Pimas and Maricopas had come in about the 1830s or so, we took them, they came from the Colorado river, and they lived with us. So there's Pima and Maricopas here. And we have always been a giving community, the Pimas. When you look back to Kit Carson's records, the U.S. cavalry, when anyone came through here, you know, regardless, we had to go through the Guatemala Lupe HiDALGO treaty, and the -- of course the finally the acquisition from the United States to Mexico. Everything south of the Gila River was Mexico, and which I live a quarter mile south of the Gila River. So -- but executive orders were made, and they encompassed this whole area from -- as the Pima and Maricopas, aboriginal lands up to -- say east it would be globe, payson, Prescott, Wickenberg, and back down to where, like, Casa Grande is the area, and this was ours, all this time. Again we're river people. We were born in these river beds.

Ted Simons:
I asked chairman Norris about that, because I know that was a concern with your tribe and your nation, and he said that all tribes, all American Indians, Native Americans, in this area are sister tribes. They are all related to the Hohokams, and there's really no distinction as far as he can see that you or at least that some with your tribe were trying to make. How do you respond to that?

Joseph Manuel:
With regard to that , Tohono O'odom again, where chairman Norris is from a desert. They're the desert people. We’re the acumer O’odom We're the river people. And from time and memorial, our people have always lived here. Now, when we talk about HUAGUM, that's been around forever in our language, but it means those that have gone. And if someone passed this morning, a few minutes ago, 2,000 years ago, you have HUAGUM people, your ancestors. And so it's used in a broad sense when chairman Norris is explaining what he's doing. But we -- we shouldn't have to defend ourselves, but ultimately we are, and we have to, because of history. As it presents itself.

Craig Tindall:
If I could just follow up on the lieutenant governor's statement, additionally, the federal government has recognized through the Indian court of claims certain particular areas of Arizona that are recognized as cultural -- and lieutenant governor please step in and correct me, that are culturally designated with respect to the several tribes. In this respect, this particular land is one that's recognized for the community and their members.

Ted Simons:
And yet, again, when I spoke to the chairman about this, public law, 99.503 was referred to on numerous occasions, that was an agreement, that said this 135-acre parcel of land, if they were to purchase it, and they did, that would be part of the settlement. Are they wrong about that?

Craig Tindall:
Yes. The gila bend act, the act chairman Norris referred to, and the number you just used, it doesn't designate any particular parcel land. It allows them to select land within certain areas that meet certain criteria. It's our proposition, it has been from day one, that this land does not meet that criteria.

Ted Simons
Give us an example.

Craig Tindall:
At the corporate limits, that's one of the examples I cited. There is very specifically and it gets comply indicated, we can do an entire show with respect to the water issues that need to be satisfied prior to any land being taken into trust, which have not been addressed whatsoever. And so there's also in the act a requirement that the land be limited in a certain amount of area, a certain amount of areas , the act says three areas, one of which needs to be next to the San Lucy village, down near gila bend. And it's -- again, it's complicated, as the legalities of this matter are, but the -- that particular aspect and what has gone on in the past with respect to the Tohono O'Odham and their use of the Gila bend act would suggest this land does not qualify to meet that requirement whatsoever. So there are several arguments as to why this land doesn't qualify at all, and there's additional arguments as to why this land doesn't qualify with respect to gaming whatsoever.

Joseph Manuel:
Let me give you a little perspective as well. The gila bend act was approved and passed by Congress in 1986. The Indian gaming regulatory act which allowed casinos on Indian reservations to occur, occurred in 1988 two years later. So this Gila Bend act had no vision of casinos or anything like that occurring at all. And, you know, John McCain was a sponsor of that bill, and, you know, we've asked if maybe he could portray the intent. Because, you know, we have, like, governor Jan Brewer, John McCain, senator Kyl, seven Indian tribes that are totally against this at this time.

Ted Simons:
And yet the Tohono O'Odham leadership says that your opposition specifically against this particular effort has all to do with business, has all to do with market share, you're concerned about another casino coming into the urban area, the Phoenix metropolitan area. How do you respond?

Joseph Manuel:
How I respond is twofold. Again, it leads back to my second assertion, that the 202, which occurred -- the proposition 202 which was implemented in 2002, you know, gave those distinctions of what can be a gaming facilities would be on traditional Indian lands and reservations and not in metropolitan areas. There's been attempts by several tribes to do so, but they respected the 202 and backed off shortly thereafter. But, you know this, was the compact in 202, which Tohono O'Odham was a part of, but a year later, 203 is when they purchased the property in Glendale through Rainier development, or -- of some sort, and their assertion that it's Indian claims settlement -- Indian claim settlements refer to the illegal taking of land, and there was never any illegal taking of land. It was because of the damage done, it paint add rock into the community there.

Craig Tindall:
A couple points that -- if I can elaborate on proposition 202 that's important to understand. As the lieutenant governor mentioned, the Tohono O'Odham were a member of the 17-tribe initiatives that supported that initiative to be vote order by the voters. And it was very clear in that, there's statement buys government officials at the time, governor hall at the time, that if this proposition was passed, there would be no new casinos in Maricopa County. And that was supported by the tribe, in fact chairman Miller said specifically that the voters should support 202 in opposition to the other propositions on the ballot so that there would be no neighborhoods in the casinos -- no casinos in the neighborhood. And yet at the time we know that they were actively looking for property and we know they were actively looking for this property well before that initiative got on the ballot. So -- and then it was purchased, it was purchased in an assumed corporate name and held for six years in that name.

Ted Simons:
We don't have time to get into that, though the chairman said the reason they used the assumed name, they were simply doing business and did not want others to know they got $30 million as far as entitlements and they didn't want that to happen because it was a far market value they were worried about. We have very little time left.

Craig Tindall:
That's why they purchased it, not why they held it.

Ted Simons:
He's just doing business, he said, he didn't want everyone to know. Last question, and it's got to be brief. Jobs, economic development, all this as the chairman says, will happen for that area in which Glendale has almost completely surrounds. Why is that a bad thing?

Craig Tindall:
A couple points. The economic development study that they are espousing, we've never seen. Economic studies, economic projections are all based on premises and assumptions and you doe know if they're valid until you test them. We've never seen it evne though we’ve asked for it. We have said to the tribe that if you want to come and develop this as a proprietary development, not as a reservation land or regular development, for economic benefit to your community, that's fine. We would assist you in doing that. We would go forward under that premise and be happy. So they can use that land in another way. And then there's the question of, how much economic benefit will this really have? The tribe has filed papers with the federal government to separate their application for casino from this takings reservation land, yet they've gone forward in the media and said they're still going to have a casino on the property probably in a tented facility. For quite some time given the economic conditions we face. Given that scenario, a lot of what they rely on in the economic benefits aren't going to take place.

Ted Simons:
We do have to stop you right there. We thank you both very much for joining us on "Horizon."

Craig Tindall and Joseph Manuel:
Thank you very much.

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