Oklahoma tribe joins Georgia casino gambling fray

Oklahoma tribe joins Georgia casino gambling fray

February 13, 2017 2:21 PM

With what promises to be a contentious battle in Georgia over casino gambling legislation now underway, an Oklahoma Indian tribe has joined the fray.

The United Keetoowah band of the Cherokee wants to return to its ancestral Georgia home. A lawyer for the tribe said an Indian casino is easier to get done and will help a native Georgia people struggling to survive.

The Keetoowah band were driven from Georgia during the “Trail of Tears in the 1830."

Local media report the tribe wrote to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal last month and said that through federal law, they have status superior to all other efforts to build a casino. Richard Lea, attorney for the Keetoowahs said two casino companies are in active discussions.

“They can partner with an Indian tribe. They can cut through the regulation and on an expedited basis, they can get approval and build an Indian casino a lot quicker,” Lea said. The casino company would buy the land. Next, the federal government would have to declare it sovereign in trust for the tribe.

The state legislature would not be involved.

“We’ve just seen the start of the casino fight in the legislature and it’s divisive,” Lea said.

The “Trail of Tears” is the route along which the United States government, in what historians say was a “brutally incompetent manner,” forced several tribes of Native Americans, including the Cherokees, Seminoles, Chickasaws, Choctaws and Creeks, to migrate to reservations west of the Mississippi River in the 1820s, 1830s, and 1840s. Those on the march suffered greatly from disease and mistreatment.