The Glendale City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday to oppose the creation of an Indian reservation near its sports and entertainment district. But the decision is not the city’s to make.
The Tohono O’odham Nation purchased the land six years ago and in January applied to have the federal government take the land into trust.
If the Bureau of Indian Affairs, within the U.S. Department of Interior, approves the application, 134 acres at 91st and Northern avenues would effectively become a reservation. The tribe proposes to invest more than $500 million to build a 600-room resort and the state’s largest casino.
The council opposed land being removed from the city’s control, possibly without any input in the process.
The Tohono O’odham Nation, with a reservation covering much of southern Arizona, turned north and purchased land near Glendale as part of a settlement agreement negotiated with the federal government to replace tribal land damaged by a dam project decades ago.
Because of the settlement agreement, tribal leaders maintain the government should take the land into trust as a reservation through a mandatory, not discretionary, process.
If the tribe is successful, city leaders worry about losing planning authority over an area they have crafted into a sports and entertainment destination.
The lone vote against opposing the tribe’s application came from Councilman Phil Lieberman, who praised the private investment and jobs it would bring.