The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is planning to sue the federal government for its decision to allow the Catawba Nation of South Carolina to take land into federal trust to operate an off-reservation casino, the tribe said in a release.
Principal Chief Richard Sneed denounced the decision by the Department of Interior to accept about 17 acres in Cleveland County near Kings Mountain into federal trust for the Catawba’s gambling purposes.
“The federal government has no right or authority to create a new reservation for the Catawba Nation across state lines, into Cherokee historical territory, just to build a casino,” Sneed said. “This decision creates a dangerous precedent for all federally recognized tribes that empowers corrupt developers and their lobbyists to use politicians to determine what laws and precedents are followed and which ones are ignored. This decision cannot and will not stand.”
The Bureau of Indian Affairs has acknowledged that there is a possibility that archaeological artifacts and resources could be discovered during construction on the site, which is located squarely within Cherokee historical territory, the EBCI statement said.
The BIA has not consulted with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians on cultural protection measures, the tribe said. Development of a casino on historic Cherokee land without consulting with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians on the proposal violates federal law, specifically, the National Historic Preservation Act and the National Environmental Protection Act, the EBCI said.
The North Carolina legislature has stated its opposition to the proposed Catawba casino. The EBCI contends federal officials circumvented laws that require consultation with North Carolina communities.