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#1 Feb-08-2007 09:11:am

tree hugger
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Registered: May-12-2006
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A Tribe Dreams of a Casino, and of a Less Spartan Life

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http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/07/nyreg … ref=slogin

February 7, 2007
A Tribe Dreams of a Casino, and of a Less Spartan Life
By TINA KELLEY
SEA BREEZE, N.J. — It is unlikely but not impossible that a tiny band of American Indians could open a huge casino complex 10 miles north of the George Washington Bridge.

It is unlikely but not impossible that a tribal chairman whose house has no running water and who owns a broken-down Alfa Romeo could, from a home office decorated with pictures of fine yachts, come to oversee a gambling empire. Then, he said, tribal elders could move out of grinding poverty and into an assisted-living facility that he envisions the tribe could build with its revenue.

And it is unlikely but not impossible to find a seemingly endless, empty stretch of marshland in New Jersey, the snow geese overhead making a feathery one-note symphony.

These elements come together here, in the southwestern corner of the state, where James Brent Thomas Sr., the chief of the Unalachtigo band of the Nanticoke Lenni Lenape Nation, often comes to watch the sun set across the Delaware River.

This is where Mr. Thomas’s ancestors landed in canoes in 1632, after another tribe tried to massacre them in Delaware. And this is where he ponders his quixotic plans for his tribe to, as he put it, “stop begging for crumbs from someone else’s table” and live as lavishly as they choose.

Mr. Thomas, 48, like the gamblers he seeks to serve, is not one to pass up a long shot.

The tribe, which has about 60 members who mostly live in or around Bridgeton, have claimed in a 2005 lawsuit filed in federal court that the state improperly sold 3,044 acres of land it had rights to in 1801, without a required act of Congress.

The Unalachtigos want to exchange that land, which is part of Shamong Township in Burlington County, for 1,500 acres in Alpine, N.J., which is the site of a Boy Scout camp. The tribe also wants to acquire 1,500 acres in Rancocas, N.J., now a state park leased to another group of Indians.

In Alpine, a Hudson River town of 2,200 people northwest of Manhattan, the tribe proposes building what Mr. Thomas called “a full-fledged sin city”: a $5 billion complex with five casinos, two gated golf communities and 150 homes.

The tribe also plans to build a gambling facility in Rancocas, a town of 11,000 people that is a half-hour’s drive northeast from Philadelphia. Upon acquiring land, tribes typically attract casino developers to invest in such projects.

The Mashantucket Pequot tribe had 200 members the day the Foxwoods casino opened, many fewer when the idea for a casino in Connecticut was developed. Mr. Thomas, who met with the Pequots in his previous incarnation as an art dealer, said they inspired him to begin his quest.

Many Indian tribes including the Cheyenne, Arapaho and others in Oklahoma, California and Wisconsin have tried to build casinos on land far from their historic homes, but the Unalachtigos are noteworthy for their current humble status and the proximity of their hoped-for property to New York City.

New Jersey has asked that the Unalachtigos’s federal case be dismissed, which was the fate of a 2001 case the tribe had filed in state court.

In papers seeking the dismissal of the case, the state argues that tribes are prohibited from suing states and state officials in Indian land claims, and that in any case the statute of limitations on the claim has run out. The state also questions the legitimacy of Mr. Thomas’s band, saying it requires formal recognition from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.

“Because of this ongoing administrative proceeding, the Appellate Division strongly recommended that plaintiff obtain the B.I.A.’s determination before proceeding in federal court,” the state wrote in urging dismissal.

Mr. Thomas replied that the state waived its rights to sovereignty over the tribe in 1758, and said the tribe does not require federal recognition to run casinos, because “gaming is public policy in New Jersey.”

He talks at length — and with specificity — about the $776 million in casino revenue the tribe could share with the state, suggesting it could be used for property tax relief.

Legal argument is a skill Mr. Thomas discovered and used as a sort of get-out-of-jail-as-soon-as-possible card — he spent four months of a three-year sentence behind bars in 1990 after pleading guilty to conspiracy and attempted theft charges relating to a car insurance scheme. This is a point his adversaries bring up frequently and one the appellate court rebuked the state for raising, calling it “offensive, unwarranted, and irrelevant.”

But several experts in Indian law said they were doubtful of the tribe’s chances, noting the legal bar is high for tribes seeking to run casinos.

“So if they become federally recognized and if it looks as if they have a solid land claim, a good lawyer might well advise the state to settle,” Nell Jessup Newton, dean of the University of California’s Hastings College of Law, wrote in an e-mail message. “But there are a lot of ifs here. It’s unlikely the state would be interested in settling when there are so many hurdles yet for the group to overcome.”

Most of the tribe’s members live in Bridgeton, Fairton and Sea Breeze, three communities that have pockets of natural beauty, poverty and isolation. Many work as electricians, carpenters or postal workers, Mr. Thomas said, adding that medical benefits and job opportunities are scarce in the community.

Mr. Thomas, who has deferred his tribal salary, has rigged an improvised pile driver with disks from a weight-lifting set to dig his own well.

To unwind, he often drives a few miles from his home in Fairton to the riverfront in Sea Breeze, where, he said, the landscape reminds him of the way his people were chased from their land centuries ago.

During a recent tour of the area, he stopped at a graveyard where many of his relatives were buried and at the Cohansey Country Club, an 18-hole golf course where the tribe used to have its council fire, or seat of government.

If the tribe hits the jackpot, he would like to buy this land.

“There’s no glamour in this — I’m doing this because we have no choice,” he said of his fight for a casino. “I’m going to do whatever it takes to seal the deal.”

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#2 Jul-10-2007 09:51:pm

NanticokePiney
Member
From: Hopewell Twp., New Jersey
Registered: Jul-10-2007
Posts: 4214

Re: A Tribe Dreams of a Casino, and of a Less Spartan Life

J. Brent Thomas is a quarter breed with a criminal record for fraud. His tribal rolls are made up of deceased members of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape. I have a file an inch thick on this guy. It was actually bizzare when I was first handed a list of his tribal rolls because I knew immediately that half of them were dead and then after checking further realized they were all dead except his immediately family (who are not eligible for Nanticoke Lenni- Lenape membership) and Donald Pierce who the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape kicked out for fraud.


I don't have anger issues...just violent reactions to B.S.
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#3 May-23-2008 02:31:pm

sschkaak
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Registered: Sep-17-2007
Posts: 4365

Re: A Tribe Dreams of a Casino, and of a Less Spartan Life

http://www.northjersey.com/betterliving … 02414.html

Tribe loses round in casino fight
Friday, May 23, 2008
BY PETER J. SAMPSON
STAFF WRITER
A federal judge in Camden has dismissed a lawsuit by a Native American tribe that wanted to build a glitzy casino resort atop the Palisades just north of the George Washington Bridge.

In a 40-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez ruled Tuesday that the Unalachtigo Band of the Nanticoke Leni-Lenape Nation, a small tribe from the Bridgeton area in Cumberland County, lacked standing to bring its 2005 suit against the state.

The tribe had wanted the state to turn over 1,500 acres in Alpine, site of the former Boy Scout camp, and 1,500 more in Rancocas State Park in Burlington County as compensation for land it alleged was unlawfully taken from its ancestors 200 years ago.

In court papers and interviews, James Brent Thomas Sr., the Unalatchtigo's tribal leader, said he envisioned two gaming resorts with a total of eight casinos that could generate billions in revenues for the state and secure a brighter future for tribal members.

The casino proposals were met with skepticism by local officials, including Alpine Mayor Paul Tomasko, who said residents would never go for it.

Thomas said Thursday that the tribe isn't giving up and will ask the judge to reconsider.

"Unfortunately, there have been some material misinterpretations of the facts and law central to this case, which were overlooked by the court," he said. "Once these elements are explored by the court, we are confident the court will reinstate our complaint, confirm our standing and put this case back on track."

Known as the Brotherton Reservation, 3,044 acres in Shamong, Burlington County, were set aside by the New Jersey Assembly in 1758 as a permanent home for about 200 Leni-Lenape.

In 1801, with the Indian colony failing, the Legislature agreed to sell the reservation and put the money in trust for the tribe, whose remaining members relocated to New York State and later to Wisconsin.

The suit claimed the 1801 sale was unlawful because the state failed to seek and receive congressional approval, as required under a 1790 law.

The Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians, a federally recognized tribe that is based in Wisconsin, intervened in the case and asked the court to dismiss the Unalachtigos' suit. The Brotherton Indians merged with it in 1802, making it the rightful successor to the reservation, it argued.

In reaching his decision, the judge traced the history of the tribes and concluded that neither plaintiffs nor the interveners had sufficiently demonstrated that they were successors to the Brotherton group because they failed to show any "defining characteristics" of the original group that persist today.

E-mail: sampson@northjersey.com

A federal judge in Camden has dismissed a lawsuit by a Native American tribe that wanted to build a glitzy casino resort atop the Palisades just north of the George Washington Bridge.

In a 40-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez ruled Tuesday that the Unalachtigo Band of the Nanticoke Leni-Lenape Nation, a small tribe from the Bridgeton area in Cumberland County, lacked standing to bring its 2005 suit against the state.

The tribe had wanted the state to turn over 1,500 acres in Alpine, site of the former Boy Scout camp, and 1,500 more in Rancocas State Park in Burlington County as compensation for land it alleged was unlawfully taken from its ancestors 200 years ago.

In court papers and interviews, James Brent Thomas Sr., the Unalatchtigo's tribal leader, said he envisioned two gaming resorts with a total of eight casinos that could generate billions in revenues for the state and secure a brighter future for tribal members.

The casino proposals were met with skepticism by local officials, including Alpine Mayor Paul Tomasko, who said residents would never go for it.

Thomas said Thursday that the tribe isn't giving up and will ask the judge to reconsider.

"Unfortunately, there have been some material misinterpretations of the facts and law central to this case, which were overlooked by the court," he said. "Once these elements are explored by the court, we are confident the court will reinstate our complaint, confirm our standing and put this case back on track."

Known as the Brotherton Reservation, 3,044 acres in Shamong, Burlington County, were set aside by the New Jersey Assembly in 1758 as a permanent home for about 200 Leni-Lenape.

In 1801, with the Indian colony failing, the Legislature agreed to sell the reservation and put the money in trust for the tribe, whose remaining members relocated to New York State and later to Wisconsin.

The suit claimed the 1801 sale was unlawful because the state failed to seek and receive congressional approval, as required under a 1790 law.

The Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians, a federally recognized tribe that is based in Wisconsin, intervened in the case and asked the court to dismiss the Unalachtigos' suit. The Brotherton Indians merged with it in 1802, making it the rightful successor to the reservation, it argued.

In reaching his decision, the judge traced the history of the tribes and concluded that neither plaintiffs nor the interveners had sufficiently demonstrated that they were successors to the Brotherton group because they failed to show any "defining characteristics" of the original group that persist today.

E-mail: sampson@northjersey.com

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#4 May-23-2008 03:31:pm

tree hugger
Site Admin
Registered: May-12-2006
Posts: 11110

Re: A Tribe Dreams of a Casino, and of a Less Spartan Life

big_smile

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#5 May-27-2008 10:55:am

tree hugger
Site Admin
Registered: May-12-2006
Posts: 11110

Re: A Tribe Dreams of a Casino, and of a Less Spartan Life

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/20 … wsuit.html

Story and photo at link


**can't get it to copy here.

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#6 Jun-13-2008 07:46:pm

NanticokePiney
Member
From: Hopewell Twp., New Jersey
Registered: Jul-10-2007
Posts: 4214

Re: A Tribe Dreams of a Casino, and of a Less Spartan Life

J. Brent Thomas was just arrested in Millville for having a full crack pipe. I'll send Hugger the "crime log" entry.


I don't have anger issues...just violent reactions to B.S.
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#7 Jun-13-2008 10:01:pm

NanticokePiney
Member
From: Hopewell Twp., New Jersey
Registered: Jul-10-2007
Posts: 4214

Re: A Tribe Dreams of a Casino, and of a Less Spartan Life

May 10, 2008
   James B. Thomas, 49, of Fairton was arrested at 2:18 am Friday inside the City Hall Complex on South High St.
  Officer E. Ansara stated Thomas approached in a "violent manner" when spotted. He was charged with disorderly conduct, possession of drug paraphernalia (a glass crack pipe) and violating curfew. He was released on his own recognizance.

http://www.thedailyjournal.com/apps/pbc … /805100318


I don't have anger issues...just violent reactions to B.S.
---------------------------------------------------
      Warning:  Some Profanity
This might cause you to experience reason

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#8 Jun-13-2008 10:37:pm

lenape
Member
Registered: Feb-11-2008
Posts: 1779

Re: A Tribe Dreams of a Casino, and of a Less Spartan Life

yikesyikesyikesyikes

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#9 May-24-2009 07:12:pm

NanticokePiney
Member
From: Hopewell Twp., New Jersey
Registered: Jul-10-2007
Posts: 4214

Re: A Tribe Dreams of a Casino, and of a Less Spartan Life

NanticokePiney wrote:

May 10, 2008
   James B. Thomas, 49, of Fairton was arrested at 2:18 am Friday inside the City Hall Complex on South High St.
  Officer E. Ansara stated Thomas approached in a "violent manner" when spotted. He was charged with disorderly conduct, possession of drug paraphernalia (a glass crack pipe) and violating curfew. He was released on his own recognizance.

http://www.thedailyjournal.com/apps/pbc … /805100318

*BUMP*

  I CAN'T STAND THIS FAST TALKING KNUCKLEHEAD!!!! yikes


I don't have anger issues...just violent reactions to B.S.
---------------------------------------------------
      Warning:  Some Profanity
This might cause you to experience reason

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