Creek tribal committee will consider taking over proposed Broken Arrow casino
BY SUSAN HYLTON World Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
12/11/12 at 3:34 PM
OKMULGEE - A joint committee of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation will consider a tribal resolution Tuesday evening that proposes for the tribe to assume management of a proposed casino in Broken Arrow.
If approved, the resolution is planned for presentation to the tribe's National Council, the tribe's legislative body, on Saturday.
Originally, the Kialegee Tribal Town was going to lease the property from Creek allotted land owners Marcella Giles and Wynema Capps for the proposed Red Clay Casino at the southwest corner of Florence Street (111th Street) and Olive Avenue (129th East Avenue).
But construction was halted in May when U.S. Chief District Judge Gregory Frizzell ruled that the Kialegee Tribal Town, whose fewer-than 450 members are Creek Indians, did not have jurisdiction at the site.
With that court defeat pending in an appeal to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Florida developers Luis Figueredo and Shane Rolls are now pitching a new plan in which the tribe would receive a 70 percent cut of the gaming revenues without having to invest a dime.
They estimate that the casino would generate $15 million to $25 million a year for the tribe.
According to a draft proposal, the landowners would lease the property to the tribe for $450,000 a year for 10 years, which would be paid from the Red Clay Group's 30 percent share of gaming revenues.
National Speaker Sam Alexander said the actual discussion of the issue likely will take place in a closed executive session after a vote in an open meeting.
The proposed casino sparked an intense controversy in Broken Arrow when residents first learned about it last December.
Members of the Broken Arrow Citizens Against Neighborhood Gaming have been contacting National Council members asking them to vote against the new proposal.
But group spokesman Jared Cawley said they do not plan to have an organized presence at the committee meeting.
If the proposal is approved, he said, the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs would still need to approve the lease for the land.
Cawley said the main legal issue to be resolved is whether the lease for gaming can be done on individually owned land and not land owned by the tribe.
He and others watching the issue say that if it goes through, it opens the door for many Indian allotment owners who hope to profit from their land with gaming.
"We'll still have a voice in speaking to the BIA in saying we don't think it should go there, but how much weight they'll give to our voice is another matter," Cawley said.
Mike Bergman, a spokesman for the group Citizens Protecting Native American Sovereignty, said many Broken Arrow residents do want the casino and that U.S. Rep. John Sullivan's primary election loss, after representing the 1st District for more than five terms, is evidence of that.
Stopping the casino was a major part of Sullivan's campaign effort.
"The casino is good for Broken Arrow and good for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation," Bergman said. "I know the neighborhoods north of the casino site don't like it, but they don't speak for all of Broken Arrow.
"No one has the right to tell the (tribe) what they can or can't build on that sacred land," he said. "It's obvious that generating $25 million a year is good for the (tribe). The council knows this, the chief knows this and, most importantly, the 70,982 enrolled members of the (tribe) know this."
Original Print Headline: Tribal committee will consider casino
Susan Hylton 918-581-8381
Jared Cawley: "We'll still have a voice in speaking to the BIA in saying we don't think it should go there, but how much weight they'll give to our voice is another matter."
Mike Bergman: "The casino is good for Broken Arrow and good for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. I know the neighborhoods north of the casino site don't like it, but they don't speak for all of Broken Arrow."