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This article was published 6/4/2011 (3213 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Two Dakota First Nations are prepared to flout provincial gaming laws by building a native casino at a golf resort west of Brandon.
Owners of the Four Seasons Island Resort at Oak Lake signed a letter of intent last month to make land available to the newly formed Buffalo Nation Dakota Group for a casino development.
"We've asked the Dakota Nation to consider within their rights... to develop this gaming facility, this casino on our resort, and they've accepted," resort co-owner Lawrence Wilkinson said this week.
The Oak Lake resort sits on 260 hectres and has an 18-hole championship golf course. It is located about 40 kilometres west of Brandon, on Highway 254.
The two groups have been discussing the proposal for months and the formal invitation, in the letter of intent, was signed March 23.
The Buffalo Nation Dakota Business Group, led by Dakota chiefs Orville Smoke from Dakota Plains and Frank Brown from Canupawakpa, plans to make a formal announcement to celebrate the development later this week.
But the Manitoba government and Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs officials indicated this week the Dakota casino proposal is a complete surprise. While the AMC declined comment Tuesday, the province warned it's illegal to open a casino without a Manitoba gaming licence.
The proposed Dakota casino would compete with a $40-million First Nations casino being built east of Brandon near Carberry. That casino is the only one in western Manitoba with provincial and AMC approval.
A provincial spokeswoman said there's room for only one casino in western Manitoba.
Brown said the Dakota group has a couple of advantages over the project in Carberry. As a location, the resort is closer to Brandon and Dakota has a legal edge over other First Nations within the AMC gaming umbrella in Manitoba.
"As non-treaty people, we don't fall under the gaming process the province has with the treaty nations. We have our own rights," Brown contends.
Dakota sovereignty rights are the subject of a lawsuit before the Federal Court of Canada in Saskatoon, where the Dakota are suing for recognition for treaty rights.
"We have absolutely no alternative but to fend for ourselves," Smoke said. "I don't think anybody in their right mind will stand in the way of any First Nation that is trying to fend for themselves."
Plans for the Oak Lake resort also include a proposal for a museum and a prefab housing plant.
By summer, the development plans call for a temporary casino building to be up and running, with some slot machines and card tables.
A permanent casino would follow, once architectural plans are settled and investors lined up, the Dakota business group said.