Shawnee’s Request to Drop Ohio from Lawsuit a Win, Official Says

July 13, 2006

Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro said this week that the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma’s decision to drop the state from its claim for lands in Ohio is a clear indication that their legal claims are baseless.

“The (Shawnee) Tribe’s removal of the state from their suit is a win for Ohio,” said Attorney General Jim Petro. “However, no one should be fooled into thinking this is anything other than a tactical legal maneuver by the Eastern Shawnee to continue their efforts to bring casino gambling to Ohio.”

The Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma voluntarily removed all of its claims against the state of Ohio, Franklin County and several other defendants. The manner in which the Tribe filed this dismissal bars it from ever refiling these claims against these defendants in the future.

“We have maintained all along that the Tribe’s claims were completely without merit. The Tribe’s voluntary removal of the state of Ohio from this case demonstrates that the Tribe also has reached this conclusion,” Petro said.

In May 2005, the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma filed a suit claiming that it retained hunting and fishing rights throughout most of central and southern Ohio and that it still held aboriginal title over several of its former reservations that were ceded to the United States government in the early 1800s.

While the state of Ohio and several other defendants have now been removed, the Tribe has not yet done so with a multitude of other counties, local governments and private entities. Petro pledged to continue to support efforts to have the rest of the claims dismissed if the Eastern Shawnee Tribe does not do so on its own.

“In our view no political subdivision has the authority to settle these claims without the state’s participation. Thus, this lawsuit must be dismissed in its entirety,” said Petro.

Petro added that a close examination of the historical and legal arguments raised by the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma reveals that they are absolutely without merit. “This case is simply an attempt to bring Class III casinos to Ohio. I will continue to vigorously defend state laws which do not allow for Class III casino gambling and do everything in my power to stop it,” he said.

Source: Ohio Attorney General’s Office

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