The Pojoaque Pueblo tribe has filed a lawsuit against the state of New Mexico and has refused to enter into a new gambling contract which the tribe feels is unfair as it seeks to impose higher gambling taxes which is detrimental to the tribe, casino employees and the community at large. The new contract with the state government would allow tribes to operate their casinos for another twenty years.

However other tribes in the region have decided to ahead and sign the new agreement which means Pojoaque Pueblo tribe will have to fight its case alone. The Ohkay Owingeh pueblos, Zumi, Isleta and Taos tribes have all signed compacts with the state and will be able to operate legally within New Mexico. The Acoma and Jemez pueblos, Jicarilla Apache nations and the Navajo Nation have also signed the compact and the U.S. Interior Department have already sent in the final approval.

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez was happy to see more tribes accept the new gambling agreements which her government has rolled out and confirms that the Tesuque and Santa Clara pueblos are also thinking about signing an agreement with the state. Martinez’s deputy chief of staff Jeremiah Ritchie says the new gambling agreement has been accepted by just about every tribe in New Mexico despite the stance adopted by the Pojoaque Pueblo tribe.

The Pojoaque Pueblo tribe had earlier accused the government of throwing its weight around and imposing a lot of pressure on tribes to accept the new gambling compacts. However, Ritchie denies that,  stating that his government worked long and hard to ensure that the new compact would be as flexible as possible to assist the tribes and at the same time protect the interests of New Mexico. The fact that so many tribes have decided to sign the agreement instead of opposing the new compact is further proof that the state had prepared a gambling compact that was in favour of the tribes.

Pojoaque Gov. Joseph Talachy has a completely different view. In a statement, Talachy said “After hundreds of years of poverty, abuse and oppression, and the loss of land and water rights, we cannot continue to be taken advantage of by a state administration bent on wringing out more from our tribe.”

The Pojoaque Pueblo tribe casino agreement with the state expired on the 30th of June and the tribe is currently operating with a license. The tribe has been allowed to operate under the expired compact based on a ruling by U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez until the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver makes a final decision on the lawsuit.

 

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