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senate Bill S. 1603

Protecting a Local Casino by Reaffirming the Gun Lake Trust Land

Argument in favor

The tribe's land-into-trust application has already been finalized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, this bill further cements that decision.

Argument opposed

The U.S. government shouldn't be able to take land into trust for a casino, especially if local landowners are affected said casino.

bill Progress

  • EnactedSeptember 26th, 2014
    The President signed this bill into law
  • The house Passed September 16th, 2014
    Roll Call Vote 359 Yea / 64 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Natural Resources
  • The senate Passed June 19th, 2014
    Passed by Voice Vote
      senate Committees
      Committee on Indian Affairs
    IntroducedOctober 29th, 2013

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What is Senate Bill S. 1603?

The bill would ensure and reaffirms that lands already held in trust for the "Gun Lake Tribe," or the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians cannot be challenged in federal court.

Essentially, S. 1603 would prohibit any lawsuits related to the trust on the land and any legal challenges to the tribe's land-into-trust applications. The most contentious element of this bill that critics disagree with is that the land has been take into federal trust for the Gun Lake Casino — an institution that has been operating and contributing to the local economy for over four years.


The Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatami Indians, residents of Gun Lake, Michigan, Gun Lake Casino patrons and employees.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 1603

Based on information provided by the Department of the Interior, a CBO cost estimate found that S. 1603 would have no significant impact on the federal budget.

More Information

In Depth:

The Senate passed S.1603 with unanimous consent earlier this summer. The Obama administration has also expressed support for the measure. Motivation for introducing the bill came from a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Salazar v. Patchak case. From the SCOTUS blog:
"The case presents the question whether a landowner affected by the building of an Indian casino in his community can sue the federal government under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), seeking a declaration that the government unlawfully took the land into trust for the Tribe – a move that facilitated the building of the casino."
 An 8-1 vote determined that the tribe's land-into-trust application could be challenged, even though it was finalized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.


CBO Cost Analysis


SCOTUS Case Summary

Wayland Town Broadcast

(Photo Credit: USA Today Travel Tips)


Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation Act

Official Title

A bill to reaffirm that certain land has been taken into trust for the benefit of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatami Indians, and for other purposes.

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