"The federal government has set an
Oct. 1 deadline for all interested parties to submit documentation
regarding a proposed gaming facility in Shabbona.
The deadline was set after DeKalb County State's Attorney Ron Matekaitis sent a letter to the National Indian Gaming Commission in May requesting a clear determination from the federal government as to whether land owned by a Kansas-based Indian tribe is a reservation.
The proposed 24-hour electronic bingo hall would be built on 128 acres the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation purchased for $8.8 million in April 2006. That land is part of 1,280 acres - which also includes much of Shabbona Lake State Park - given to Chief Shab-eh-nay in an 1829 treaty. The Potawatomi, descendants of Shab-eh-nay's band, claim their rights to the land were never extinguished, making the land a reservation.
Others, including Matekaitis, aren't as sure. The county plans to submit its documents to the gaming commission within the next week or so, Matekaitis said.
“We are not satisfied that it has been established as a reservation,” Matekaitis said.
the tribe has purchased the land it would like to build the bingo hall
on, under federal law, ownership is not enough. An Indian gaming
facility can be built only on land that the government recognizes as a
reservation. If the bingo hall was built and then the land was
determined not to be a reservation, the facility would have to close.
The original deadline was in July, but it was extended to Oct. 1, Matekaitis said last week. Each party can submit information to assist the commission as it makes its decision. Interested parties will most likely include Matekaitis' office, the Illinois Attorney General's Office, the tribe and organizations like the DeKalb County Taxpayers Against the Casino.
Each group will have 15 to 30 days after the Oct. 1 deadline to respond to the submissions of the other parties, Matekaitis said.
Several telephone messages left Monday for acting tribal chairman Rey Kitchkumme were not returned by press time.”