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4/2 FNS News: Casino Meeting Scheduled

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  • SIUHIN@aol.com
    April 2, 2012 Economic News Casino Meeting Scheduled A public meeting on a proposed border-area casino is scheduled for April 4 in the southern New Mexico
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 2, 2012
      April 2, 2012

      Economic News

      Casino Meeting Scheduled

      A public meeting on a proposed border-area casino is scheduled for April 4 in the southern New Mexico town of Deming west of Las Cruces. The event will focus on plans by Oklahoma’s Fort Sill Apaches to establish a gaming palace on a new reservation in Luna County bordering Mexico. 

      According to the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, Luna County has the highest percentage of joblessness in the state, with an official unemployment rate of 20.7 percent calculated as of February 2012.

      The Fort Sill Apaches are descendants of the Chiricahua and Warm Springs bands that historically inhabited southern New Mexico, southeastern Arizona and northern Mexico before their forced removal by the U.S. government to Florida and then Oklahoma after 1886. Led by Cochise, Victorio and other noted leaders, the Apaches fiercely resisted encroachments on their lands by Spain, Mexico and the U.S.

      After a long historic struggle that touched the U.S. Supreme Court, the Fort Sill people were federally-recognized as a tribe and given permission to establish a reservation in New Mexico. In recent years, the 685-member tribe began acquiring land for a reservation at Akela Flats east of Deming.

      In comments to the press last fall, Ft. Sill Chairman Jeff Houser said a casino would provide employ jobs for returning tribal members, about half of whom currently live outside Oklahoma.

      “We look forward to the day when our tribal sovereignty here is also fully recognized and we are equal to our fellow New Mexico sovereign tribes and pueblos,” Houser was quoted.

      This week’s public meeting is legally required under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, and is slated to include the presentation of an environmental impact statement as mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act. Houser said the public is welcome to provide input. Following the meeting, the proposed casino still must gain approval by the U.S. Interior Department and New Mexico’s governor before opening its doors to the public.

      Last year, the Interior Department rejected  a bid by New Mexico’s Jemez Pueblo to open a casino  in Anthony, New Mexico, another small town with high unemployment located just west of El Paso, Texas, and near the Mexican border.  Situated northeast of El Paso, New Mexico’s Mescalero Apaches currently operate a casino that attracts customers from the borderland.

      Although the proposed Deming-area casino is located in a sparsely-populated county, it is a short drive from the growing metropolitan area of El Paso-Ciudad Juarez-Las Cruces. 

      The Fort Sill Apache public meeting is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 4, at the Mimbres Valley Special Events Center in Deming.

      Sources: Kob.com, March 31, 2012. Deming Headlight, March 29, 2012. Associated Press,  November 23, 2011. El Paso Times/Las Cruces Sun News, September 2, 2011. Article by Diana M. Alba.

      Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
      Center for Latin American and Border Studies
      New Mexico State University
      Las Cruces, New Mexico

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