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Two Arizona tribes leave Indian gaming organization over West Valley casino dispute

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — Two Arizona tribes have left the state’s only organization that mediates and solves issues regarding Indian gaming on Friday, according to the Phoenix Business Journal.

Both the Gila River Indian Community and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community have left the Arizona Indian Gaming Association over the group’s lack of interference with another tribe that built a casino in Glendale.

The groups argue that while tribes with considering negotiations that would have forced tribes to give up the right to build an additional casino, the Tohono O’odham Nation was secretly searching for land to build a casino in the West Valley.

They believe the Nation’s failure to disclose its plans violated its “contractual and moral” duties to notify the other tribes in the organization of its plans that were “inconsistent with those of other Tribal Leaders.”

In a statement, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community President Delbert Ray said the decision is in the “best interest” of the community and for gaming in the state.

Gila River Indian Community Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis said in a statement that the tribe withdrew from the organization because it did not hold up its bargain of speaking on behalf of all 18 member tribes with “one, unified voice.”

“Unfortunately, AIGA’s unity and effectiveness have been undermined in recent years by the actions of the Tohono O’odham Nation, which secretly developed a metropolitan Phoenix area casino in direct opposition to the official positions adopted and reaffirmed over many years by AIGA and its member Tribes,” the statement read.

In response, the Arizona Indian Gaming Association released a statement saying it respects the rights of the individual governments, but will continue to remain neutral on the issue of the Tohono O’odham Nation’s casino.

“While our individual member tribes may have taken different positions on the West Valley resort, we as the Association continue to remain neutral on this issue,” the statement read. “We will remain focused and committed to improve, promote and advance the common business interests of our member tribes.”


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