KANSAS CITY, KAN. An Indian tribe is moving forward with its lawsuit seeking more than 1,900 acres of now-developed land it claims was seized improperly after an 1855 treaty that moved the tribe to Oklahoma.
More than 1,300 landowners are being served this week with copies of the year-old lawsuit. A settlement with the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma fell apart in May when one landowner objected.
The tribe's land claim was filed last summer as part of its nearly decadelong legal struggle to open a casino somewhere in Kansas City, Kan., where tribal ancestors had settled during the early 1800s.
The Wyandotte Nation claims land along the Missouri River just northeast of downtown that includes much of the Fairfax Industrial District, including the plants operated by General Motors, Owens-Corning and International Paper.
The lawsuit demands title to the 4,080 parcels of land which the tribe estimated is valued for tax purposes at $1.9 billion and unspecified monetary damages for 150 years of "lost use, rents, issues, income and profits."
The proposed settlement had called for the lawsuit to be dropped in exchange for local political support of federal legislation setting aside land for a casino.
Chief Leaford Bearskin said Thursday he would have preferred not to move forward with the lawsuit.
"We sincerely regret being forced into this action and recognize that it will have serious consequences for these people," Bearskin said.
In May, U.S. District Court Judge Carlos Murguia refused to approve the settlement after Robert and Emily Modeer, who own a warehouse in the Fairfax area, objected to a provision that would have left the tribe free to press its land claim in the future.