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The Continuing Battle Over Native American Lands

Enterprising Native American communities are using their sovereignty to approve large projects that would be difficult to clear on neighboring lands, like landfills and casinos. Industry is happy to oblige, and directly targets the Native market.
November 27, 2008, 1pm PST | Tim Halbur
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"The conflicts are set to get worse as urban development sprawls toward rural areas where most Indian reservations are located, said David Bricklin, a Seattle attorney who represents communities fighting reservation development, most recently in a losing battle against an outdoor concert venue on land belonging to the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, 25 miles south of Seattle.

Bricklin said state politicians and city and town leaders often refuse to take on Indian nations, which have become major donators to political candidates. Bricklin also said opponents are branded racists by development supporters. 'You get accused of being prejudiced against the tribes if you dare to challenge the project,' he said.

But John Dossett, general counsel for the National Congress of American Indians, said land use battles cut both ways. Tribal land and people have been far more heavily impacted by development outside reservations, he said. 'It is more than a little unfair that tribes, who have been among the last to receive the benefits of economic development, would be expected to keep their lands pristine while everyone has developed all around them.'"

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Published on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 in Center for Public Integrity
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