Indian Gaming Commission rules against Kialegee casino
BY SUSAN HYLTON World Staff Writer
Saturday, May 26, 2012
5/26/12 at 7:40 AM
stories and key
the Kialegees’ efforts to build a
casino in Broken Arrow.
The National Indian Gaming Commission has ruled that the site proposed in south Broken Arrow for an Indian casino is not eligible for gaming.
NIGC Chairwoman Tracie Stevens said in a letter dated Friday to Town King Tiger Hobia of the Kialegee Tribal Town that if gaming occurs on the site, "I will exercise my enforcement authority to issue a notice of violation and temporary closure order."
While the NIGC ruled that the property is Indian land, it said that the Kialegee Tribal Town does not have legal jurisdiction over it and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation does.
The constitution for the Kialegees, a Wetumka-based tribe of less than 500 people, does not specify the tribe's geographical jurisdiction.
The Kialegees had argued that it had jurisdiction because it is within the former reservation of the Creek Nation Confederacy, which was made up of dozens of Creek tribal towns.
The Office of the Solicitor for the U.S. Department of the Interior also agrees with the opinion.
The property bounded by the Creek Turnpike, Olive Street (129th East Avenue) and Florence Street (111th Street) is a Muscogee (Creek) Indian allotment owned by Marcella Giles and Wynema Capps.
The owners originally tried to lease the property to the tribe but then pursued a joint venture between the tribe and Golden Canyon Partners LLC, which the NIGC rejected because of sole proprietary interest requirements.
Stevens also stressed that the NIGC had told the tribe repeatedly that they were reviewing whether the site was eligible for gaming.
Construction started at the site in December and was ongoing until U.S. Chief District Judge Gregory Frizzell's ruling last week granted a temporary injunction against the Kialegee Tribal Town and its casino developers, saying the casino would violate the state gaming compact and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act because the Kialegees do not have "Indian lands."
Vicki Sousa, attorney for the Kialegee Tribal Town, and Dennis Whittlesey, attorney for the casino developers Golden Canyon Partners LLC, could not immediately be reached for comment.
They have previously indicated that they will appeal Frizzell's ruling in the Tenth Circuit.
Congressman John Sullivan doesn't think that effort will be successful.
"I think everybody is happy that this is stopped," said Sullivan, who helped spearhead the neighborhood opposition effort and petition to federal gaming and Indian agencies. "I know for sure the Kialegee Tribal Town is not gaming on that property. I can assure you of that. They kind of thumbed their nose at the entire process."
Sullivan said that the court ruling and NIGC determination set a good precedent regarding allotted lands and the gaming companies that scour the country looking for potential gaming sites.
"It's mainly the gaming companies that are doing this," Sullivan said. "Those people came in and used them. They are a tribe in poverty. They have no land. They hire these lawyers and they're willing to throw money down and many times they just slip right through. In this case, it didn't."
Sullivan presented the petition with more than 10,000 signatures gathered by the Broken Arrow Citizens Against Neighborhood Gaming to federal agencies.
Some felt there was nothing that could be done because it was Indian land and because of the state gaming compact.
"If we hadn't spoke up, nobody would have said a word," BACANG spokesman Jared Cawley said. "I would like to think that the NIGC would have done their job, but it didn't look like it to me. I think it shows and gives hope to communities that you don't have to just sit back and let things happen around you. You can step up and speak out and defend your families, defend your neighborhood and defend your children."
The decisions on the Kialegee Tribal Town might help build a stronger case against the United Keetoowah casino in Tahlequah that operates without a compact, Sullivan said.
An injunction request filed by the Keetoowahs against the state is pending in federal district court in Muskogee, and a review by the NIGC has been pending for more than 10 years.
Original Print Headline: Gaming panel says no to plan for casino
Susan Hylton 918-581-8381
Tracie Stevens: She wrote that if gaming occurs on the site, "I will exercise my ... authority to issue a notice of violation and temporary closure order."