One of the largest tribes in Oklahoma, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, has reportedly renewed a federal lawsuit against the Poarch Band of Creek Indians amid allegations that one of its most important sacred burial grounds had been desecrated in order to build an aboriginal casino in Alabama.
According to a Wednesday report from the Tulsa World newspaper, the federally-recognized tribe once inhabited large portions of what would later become the state of Alabama. But, it was forcibly relocated in the 1830s as part of the infamous ‘Trail of Tears’ campaign of President Andrew Jackson before later being compelled to establish a new homeland in central Oklahoma.
The newspaper reported that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation filed its initial lawsuit against the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in 2012 after claiming that the latter tribe had unlawfully unearthed and reburied some 57 sets of human remains along with numerous sacred items while building its $246 million Wind Creek Casino and Hotel Wetumpka in central Alabama. This legal action purportedly alleged that the 33-acre site of the casino, which sits along the banks of the Coosa River near the small city of Wetumpka, was once home to its final pre-exile capital and should have been abandoned after the remains and artefacts were uncovered.
Tulsa World reported that the Wind Creek Casino and Hotel Wetumpka began welcoming guests in 2013 while the Muscogee (Creek) Nation subsequently agreed to suspend its lawsuit in hopes that the two parties would be able to find an equitable compromise.
However, this hiatus has now come to an end after the displaced tribe re-filed its lawsuit yesterday with the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama alleging that the Elmore County site should now be returned to its pre-development state, which would entail the destruction of the Wind Creek Casino and Hotel Wetumpka. This latest action against the Poarch Band of Creek Indians moreover purportedly names the federal government via the United States Department of the Interior along with the Alabama tribe’s casino and hotel-operating Wind Creek Hospitality concern as defendants.
James Floyd, Principal Chief for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reportedly told Tulsa World that his tribe had filed the original lawsuit because the Poarch Band of Creek Indians had broken an assurance to ‘maintain that ground in perpetuity.’ He declared that the defendants had also ‘desecrated an extremely important cultural, historical and archaeological site’ by excavating the ‘remains and sacred objects.’
For its part, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians is headquartered in Atmore, Alabama, and reportedly has approximately 3,000 members. Alongside the facility in Wetumpka, the federally-recognized tribe is also responsible for the southern state’s Wind Creek Casino and Hotel Atmore and Wind Creek Casino and Hotel Montgomery properties alongside similar venues in Florida, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Curacao and Aruba.