Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

BIA Questions Casino Construction in Broken Arrow

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

BIA Questions Casino Construction in Broken Arrow

Article excerpt

The Bureau of Indian Affairs asked landowners this week for further lease documentation on the Kialegee Tribal Town Red Clay Casino. At the same time, the BIA said the owners have no authority to move forward with the planned casino in Broken Arrow.

In a letter dated Feb. 13, Karen Ketcher, acting regional director for the BIA's Eastern Oklahoma Region, told the landowners, members Marcella Giles and Wynema Capps, that the Kialegee Tribal Town is violating federal regulations by moving ahead with construction without a lease.

The women, who are sisters, have attempted to transfer their parcel to the Kialegee Tribal Town. In August 2011 a judge deferred a decision on whether the land can be leased to the Kialegee Tribal Town. The tribe's estimated 450 members are affiliated with the larger Muscogee (Creek) Nation, which has jurisdiction in the area.

Ketcher gave the sisters a Feb. 24 deadline to respond.

The BIA is attempting to ensure that the necessary leases are obtained and enforced, Ketcher wrote.

In a statement, Giles did not address the BIA's questions directly, but railed at whoever released the letter to the media.

"Today, we learned through press inquiries that someone at the Eastern Regional Office apparently forwarded a copy of that letter to the office of the Oklahoma attorney general, a transmission that violates the trust relationship and in our experience is an unprecedented breach of trust and potential violation of federal law," Giles said in a statement. "In my many years working for and with the BIA on Indian law matters, I have never known of any official acting with such reckless disregard for the privacy and rights of Indian individuals."

Giles said a reporter confirmed to her that the Oklahoma attorney general's office identified its source as the BIA.

"I intend to meet soon with Interior Department officials in Washington, D.C., to raise this matter with them and demand an immediate investigation for the purpose of identifying the person responsible and the authority under which that person claims to have been acting," Giles said.

Crews started bulldozing the 20-acre site near the Creek Turnpike last month, although the land issue remained unresolved. …

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