Plans by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) for an off-reservation casino in the Upper Peninsula won’t be reconsidered by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) because he wants the tribe to resubmit its application to the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The pursuit of the casino by the tribe is under provisions of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The two-part determination requirement includes approval from the state governor, as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).
The BIA considered the tribe’s relocation plan for five years until finally signing off on the Ojibwa Casino in Marquette’s move to a larger, more visible and centralized property on land that was once home to the Marquette County Airport, in December 2011. However, after having received a six-month extension in June 2013, Snyder rejected the project. The tribe still hoped to breathe new life into the proposal by asking Michigan’s governor to concur with the earlier decision by the BIA, and a letter of intent was sent to Governor Snyder on April 8 by KBIC President Warren Swartz asking that he concur with the Department of the Interior’s approval of the project, but he refused to take action. The Marquette Mining Gazette was told by a spokesperson for the governor, “At this point we are not aware that the community has indeed reapplied to take the airport parcel into trust for purposes of gaming,” and, “Once the community reapplies, the governor is more than willing to continue a dialogue about how agreement can be reached.”
KBIC wanted to develop a major tourism entertainment destination where gaming would only be a part of the overall economic plan that according to the tribe would benefit the region. In keeping with that the tribe modified its plans for the new facility and included a branded hotel and waterpark resort, farm to table restaurants, golf course, five-star RV resort, retail outlets, and more. The tribe had anticipated that during the development of the complex at least 230 construction jobs would be created and once completed, the facility would provide 200 new jobs. That would have meant a total of 350 full-time positions, with another 100 part-time possible during the summer tourism season.
Since the IGRA’s inception in 1988, there have only been three tribes to successfully open casinos after completing both of the steps required by the two-part determination process, according to indianz.com. Approval for the Ojibwa Casino II in Chocolay Township was won by the KBIC in 2000.