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Informer: Coushatta casino sits on federal trust land

Last Modified: Friday, September 21, 2012 7:19 PM

By Andrew Perzo / American Press

If Indian casinos are supposed to be on Indian reservation property, why was the Coushatta casino built in Kinder when the tribe is in Elton?

Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, tribes may operate casinos on “Indian lands,” a term that refers to reservations and to land the federal government holds in trust for tribes.

Coushatta Casino Resort — an idea the tribe began pursuing in earnest in 1991 — sits on trust land, which the federal government took ownership of in the mid-1990s, a short while before the casino opened.

The IGRA prohibits gambling on lands acquired in trust after Oct. 17, 1988, the date the law took effect. But it contains several exceptions.

One permits gambling on lands that were contiguous to a reservation as it existed on Oct. 17, 1988. Another allows endeavors OK’d by both the governor and the Interior secretary.

The Coushatta, to whom developer Grand Casinos Inc. had donated several hundred acres, at first sought to have the land, joined by a two-mile strip to the reservation, placed in trust through contiguity — a move backed by a 1993 attorney general’s opinion.

The federal government disagreed and instead asked then-Gov. Edwin Edwards — under the above exception — to give the trust arrangement his OK. Edwards declined, saying state law only allowed him to sign Indian gambling compacts for land “as it exists on July 25, 1990,” and as permitted under federal law.

In May 1994, the tribe announced that federal officials had told the Coushatta the casino lands would be considered contiguous — and put in trust — if the Indians could buy additional land. Grand Casinos did so, purchasing 55 acres from a Kinder family in 1994, and the Interior Department accepted the land.

The casino opened on Jan. 16, 1995.

Online: www.nigc.gov; www.coushattatribela.org.

McNeese, LSU met in October 2010

Have the McNeese and LSU football teams ever played each other? If so, who won?

The two schools’ football teams have met only once — on Oct. 16, 2010, at Tiger Stadium, where LSU beat the Cowboys by 22 points.

But “pay no mind to the final score — LSU 32, McNeese 10,” American Press sports columnist Scooter Hobbs wrote after the game.

“That was probably closer than most expected, but it could have been closer still. And McNeese did lead — not once (7-0), but again at 10-7. LSU was stymied most of the night and accidentally scored the final touchdown while trying to run out the clock.”


School system still under court order

Is the Calcasieu Parish School Board still under a federal decree?

Yes.

The board last year debated whether to seek unitary status — that is, having the system officially declared desegregated — but its members voted the idea down, 8-6.

The court order, which dates from the 1970s, stems from the case Rickey Dale Conley et al. vs. Lake Charles School Board et al.

Online: http://law.justia.com.

•••

The Informer answers questions from readers each Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. It is researched and written by Andrew Perzo, an American Press staff writer. To ask a question, call 494-4098, press 5 and leave voice mail, or email informer@americanpress.com

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