Case 156

Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri v. Babbitt, 92 F.Supp.2d 1124 (D. Kan. 2000).

Plaintiffs brought this action, challenging the decision of the Department of the Interior Secretary (Babbitt) to take .52 acres of land into trust on behalf of the Wyandotte Indian Tribe of Oklahoma. The underlying concern of plaintiffs was that the Wyandotte Tribe would use the land as a location for gambling.

Public Law 98-602 appropriated funds, and specifically required that they be used to purchase the land at issue "which shall be held in trust by the Secretary for the benefit" of the Wyandotte Tribe. Among other things, plaintiffs alleged that Secretary Babbitt had violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) in taking the land into trust. However, in a brief opinion, the court held that NEPA and NHPA were not applicable because Babbitt was performing a nondiscretionary duty and a "merely ministerial role." The court cited the cases of Lee v. Thornburgh (see Case 100), and U.S. v. 162.20 Acres of Land (see Case 86).

The court, however, noted that NEPA and NHPA would apply to future actions related to the property.

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