Earlier this week, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation confirmed that they had submitted an application for putting the tribe-owned property in Pasco into trust with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in Portland. This is the first step of a 16-step federal process for the transfer of off-reservation tribal fee property to trust status. The BIA and the Department of the Interior may require the tribes to go through more processes because the land will be used for building a gambling venue.
Transferring the Property for the Project into Trust Status Might Take Up to Five Years
This week the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation took a major step toward opening a casino and travel center by submitting a fee-to-trust transfer application for the tribe-owned property in Pasco. The application was developed over the past year by the Colville Tribes’ attorneys and staff and handed to the Regional Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Portland, Bryan Mercier.
Colville Business Council Chairman Jarred Michael Erickson said that the fee-to-trust transfer of tribal property might take two to five years. He added that the gambling venue in Pasco will create more job opportunities, attract tourists to the region, and provide the tribal government with additional resources to serve the tribal membership. Mr. Erickson explained that the project will benefit the Colville Tribes and the Tri-Cities area.
Cody Desautel, executive director of the Colville, said that the process of moving parcels into trust also includes an environmental review, which is subject to public comment. Besides, the federal review process must also consider any objections to the casino project.
More About the Casino Project in Pasco
In 2019, Colville Confederated Tribes signed an Agreement in Principle with the Pasco City Council to work together on the casino project. Under the agreement, the city will provide municipal services such as police and fire coverage, while the tribes will reimburse the city for the costs of these services.
In a letter sent to Erickson on April 14, Mayor Blanche Barajas once again expressed his support for the casino project. Pasco’s city manager Adam Lincoln explained that the city is still learning to cooperate with the Colville Tribes.
The Colville Tribes operate other gambling venues at Lake Chelan, Omak, and Coulee Dam. In 2019, the Colville purchased 184 acres of land to the east of Highway 395 used by the tribes back in the day for $2.9 million. Although it will take a few more years before the casino in Pasco opens its doors, experts believe that the gambling venue will boost the city’s economy and decrease unemployment.