But the Eastern Band lost the roll of the dice, U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg wrote in his 55-page opinion Friday: “In the end, though, they come up with snake eyes, as on each claim they either lack standing or lose on the merits.
The Eastern Band had previously called the Catawba efforts “a modern-day land grab” and that, under the legal process, the government is supposed to follow to acquire trust land for the Catawba tribe, that land must be in South Carolina. Strict laws in South Carolina prohibit most forms of gambling in the state.
But the Catawba tribe has said they have a right to the land for the casino based on a 1993 agreement that gave them federal recognition. The tribe points out that it has long had historical and ancestral ties to land in North Carolina.
Catawba Indian Nation Chief Bill Harris praised the ruling, saying he hoped the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians would not file a “frivolous appeal and that our two tribes can now work together for the betterment of our people.”
“This decision reaffirms the clear historical record of the Catawba’s ancestral lands and cultural ties in North Carolina and the rigorous process of review undertaken by the U.S. Department of the Interior in taking the land into trust,” Harris said in a news release.
Richard Sneed, principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, said in an emailed statement that the tribe was reviewing the ruling late Friday. He added the tribe is “examining all options for next steps. It remains clear to us that the law was broken and we will not stop until justice is served in this case.”