Agency memo confirms Coquille Tribe’s ability to conduct gaming in Medford23-Jan-2017
North Bend, Ore. – A federal agency review this week confirmed the Coquille Indian Tribe’s legal right to open a casino on its development property in Medford once the land is placed in federal trust.
“This memo confirms everything that we have been saying since we first announced our economic development plans for Medford,” said Tribal Chairperson Brenda Meade. “We thank the staff at the Office of Indian Gaming for taking the time to clarify this point and to correct any misinformation concerning the Coquille Tribe’s rightful place within the Medford business community.
“While we recognize that this decision will not be finalized until the end of the federal process, this clarification encourages us to move forward on planning for the Cedars at Bear Creek and further development in Medford.”
In a memo to the Northwest Regional Office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the Office of Indian Gaming (OIG) relayed the results of a preliminary review that found the Tribe’s property in South Medford would qualify for gaming under provisions of the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The review was conducted by the OIG’s Solicitor’s Office.
The OIG memo focused on a provision of the IGRA that offers a pathway for restored tribes to conduct gaming on newly acquired reservation lands. The Coquille Tribe’s status as a federally recognized tribe was restored by an act of Congress in 1989. The solicitor’s preliminary review found that, through provisions in that act, the Medford property would qualify for the Restored Lands Exception.
“The Solicitor’s Office has completed is preliminary review of the Tribe’s request for a determination of gaming eligibility, and initially finds that the land will qualify for the Restored Lands Exception if the land is acquired in trust pursuant to the CRA [Coquille Restoration Act],” the memo stated. “The Department [Department of the Interior] will finalize its determination when the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs completes his review and decision of the Tribe’s trust acquisition . . . Accordingly, please proceed to process the Tribe’s application pursuant to the Restored Land Exception analysis.”
Several steps still remain in the complex federal process for approving The Cedars. The BIA next will produce a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which covers the full impact of the tribe’s request to place the casino site into federal trust. After holding a public hearing and accepting written comments, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs will complete a final EIS, which would lead to a final determination and a ‘record of decision.’
Meade noted that the memo expresses no opinion on the trust application. But, by clarifying the Tribe’s right to game on that land once it is taken into trust, the memo “should open the door to more meaningful discussions with local officials concerning our mutual interests for economic development in Medford and Jackson County.”
The Coquille Tribe will transform a commercial property in South Medford into a new gaming and entertainment center – The Cedars at Bear Creek that reflects the Tribe’s trademark warm hospitality, exceptional customer service and exciting entertainment. The Tribe plans to make The Cedars the centerpiece of a larger development effort to increase business and consumer opportunities in this part of the city.
Contact: Ray Doering, Director of Corporate Communications, (541) 756-0662 (office) (541) 297-4611 (cell)