Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Missouri Balks at Stop for Truckers Nixon Promises to Fight New Proposal by Indians

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Missouri Balks at Stop for Truckers Nixon Promises to Fight New Proposal by Indians

Article excerpt

It might go down in Missouri legal lore as the Battle of the Truck Stop.

In one corner: The Peoria Indians of Oklahoma, who want to open a large truck stop and deli in Wright City in hopes of raising money to preserve their ancient past.

In the other, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon, who considers the proposal a land grab. The tribe wants to get a special sovereign status applied to the 13-acre site, which would mean state and local officials would lose regulatory and taxing control over the land. That's a possibility state officials are determined to fight, Nixon said. "We are talking about taking a piece of Missouri and giving it to the equivalent of a foreign nation," Nixon said Tuesday. "The short- and long-term results of that are dramatic and traumatic, and I will be working long and hard to see it doesn't happen." The Peoria Indian Tribe of Miami, Okla., along with the Greater Missouri Builders of St. Charles want to build the travel plaza on the west end of Wright City. Located along Interstate 70 in eastern Warren County, the plaza would include several fueling islands, a convenience store and a deli. Roger Cox, a spokesman for Greater Missouri Builders, said the travel plaza would create about 100 new jobs in the Wright City area and would generate about $1 million annually in retail sales. The tribe plans to apply to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, part of the U.S. Department of Interior, to have the land placed in federal trust. Federally recognized tribes are considered sovereign nations, and so local, state and federal laws aren't applicable within the area held in trust. The tribe could make high profits with the travel plaza because the Indians aren't required to meet the same environmental standards other fuel stations do or pay state gasoline tax, said John Pelzer, executive vice president of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers Association. "A secondary issue is that this creates a very unfair competitive level with similar family businesses in the state," Pelzer said. The tribe numbers about 2,400 members, most of whom live in Oklahoma. The tribe was once part of the Illini Nation. Along with several other tribes, the Peoria Indians lived in northern Illinois and along the Mississippi and Illinois river valleys. …

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