The Fort Sill Apache Tribe is an American Indian tribe based in Oklahoma that owns land in the southern portion of New Mexico. The tribe recently filed a motion against several groups due to a federal decision to prohibit the tribe from providing gambling activities on their land.
The motion was filed last week due to the May decision by the National Indian Gaming Commission that the tribe cannot operate gambling facilities on their land in New Mexico. The tribe claims this ruling is in violation to the 2007 settlement between the tribe and the federal government.
An original complaint by the tribe has been amended and now includes the United States Interior Department as well as the federal government as named defendants in the case. The Chairman for the Fort Sill Apache Tribe, Jeff Haozous, has stated that this recent decision by the Commission is the latest in a string of broken promises by the United States since the 1886 agreement with Geronimo to return their people to their homeland after two years of imprisonment.
Haozous stated the tribe is now asking the court to compel the named defendants in the case to uphold their latest agreement which was made to allow their people to return to their rightful home. The Interior Department has not commented on the subject, claiming the pending litigation as reason behind their non-response in this case.
As descendants of the Warm Springs Apaches and the Chiricahua, the Fort Sill Apache members once lived in Arizona and southern New Mexico but were removed in the 1880s by the federal government. Tribal members were sent to Florida, Alabama and Oklahoma. A 30 acre section of land in the southern portion of New Mexico was designated by the federal government for the tribe as reservation land in 2011 but the offices of the tribe are in Oklahoma.
The land has been in a trust since 2002 for the tribe, which they now want to use to operate a casino. The Tribe has acknowledged that trust lands acquired after 1988 are not allowed to provide gambling based on the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. However, they do argue that the rule does not apply to the land restored for the tribe with federal recognition or land that was initially part of the tribal reservation.