American Indian Tribe Changes Tactics in Ohio Casino Bid

Ohio State Government officials happily reacted last week to a court ruling which dismissed them from a lawsuit filed by the Eastern Shawnee tribe so it can build casinos in Ohio. The State wants back in since the tribe has switched tactics, Attorney General Jim Petro said Friday.

Petro said the tribe's efforts are "not a legitimate claim to tribal land. It's a shame. We're trying to stop this before it goes too far."

Petro filed a motion Friday seeking to intervene in a lawsuit the Oklahoma-based Eastern Shawnee tribe filed against the state and 60 other government entities and individuals last year.

The tribe asked that the state be dismissed as a defendant and U.S. District Judge James Carr in Toledo agreed last week. At the time, Petro hailed the dismissal as a victory fro Ohio and said it showed the tribe had decided its case was weak.

However, Petro said Friday that he had learned the tribe was changing its tactics. Instead of trying to win state approval to build casinos, it first was negotiating with several communities on agreements that the land where it wants to build is ancestral tribal land, he said.

The tribe, which claims it was forced from Ohio in the 1830s, argues that faulty treaties and land deals legitimize its land claims.