Legal Hurdles Remain as the Wyandotte Nation Works in their Tribal Casino in Kansas

On May 21, 2007, the reconstruction at a former Masonic Temple located in Kansas City into a gambling casino has quickened.

Crossland Construction Company Inc. Superintendent Mark Stark said that they are currently in the midst of reconstructing the former temple into a casino facility.

He added that there are currently 40 construction workers, including some subcontractors working on the project so that the facility can be finished by September.

The tribe has asked for permission to develop the site into a casino for a long time before being approved a few years ago. The construction of the casino was started but temporarily stopped and then started again in March 2007.

Workers are building 2 new areas and an elevator shaft in the facility. The former Masonic temple has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1985. State Historians said that the Wyandotte Tribe never asked their permission to remodel the Masonic Temple.

According to Unified Government Spokesman Mike Taylor, the city officials are finally cooperating with the Wyandotte Tribe after years of resistance. Taylor commented that the Wyandotte Tribe agreed to follow all of the city safety codes.

In March 2007, Chief Leaford Bearskin said that they still need to get a good ruling from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver in a lawsuit filed against them by Kansas officials.

The Court of Appeals already heard the oral arguments from both sides on May 9, 2007 and could give out a decision any time soon.

Remaining issues that might hamper the tribe from completing their casino project is the state claim that the Wyandotte Tribe in 1996 bought the lodge and the half-acre land by using federal money that is not permitted for such cases, but allowed the land for any federally permitted gambling activities.

A U.S. District Judge in Topeka, Judge Julie A. Robinson, dismissed the state’s claim but the state of Kansas and 3 other tribes who own a casino in the state appealed the case.

A federal division has said that the land cannot be used for gambling related games, but the U.S. government has dropped their intention of appealing the ruling of Judge Robinson.


17 June, 2007