In the United States and a federal judge has reportedly agreed to expedite a lawsuit the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians filed against the Catawba Indian Nation earlier this year in an attempt to stop the latter’s effort to bring a $273 million casino resort to North Carolina.
According to a Monday report from The Charlotte Observer newspaper, the Catawba Indian Nation is hoping to open the first phase of its Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort on a 16.5-acre plot of land near the small community of Kings Mountain by next autumn complete with a gaming floor offering at least 1,300 slots. But, the federally-recognized Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has purportedly long been against this plan due to the fact that it runs North Carolina’s only existing pair of casinos in the impressive Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and smaller Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino and Hotel.
The newspaper reported that the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians filed its lawsuit with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on March 17 in an attempt to overturn the United States Department of the Interior’s earlier land-into-trust decision regarding the Cleveland County plot for the proposed casino resort. This action purportedly claimed that the Catawba Indian Nation is engaging in ‘a modern-day land grab’ as its ancestral territory lies some 34 miles away in the gambling-hostile state of South Carolina.
In its suit, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians moreover reportedly alleged that the federal government had bowed to political pressure from the developer of the coming casino project, Wallace Cheves, in bypassing Congress to grant the land-into-trust decision. It purportedly claimed that this individual had given almost $500,000 to various Republican figures in North Carolina before ‘leveraging his political connections to pressure’ the United States Department of the Interior into granting the Catawba Indian Nation permission to build its Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort.
Richard Sneed, Principal Chief for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, reportedly told The Charlotte Observer that it subsequently became necessary to ask for its lawsuit be expedited due to the fact that the Catawba Indian Nation has already begun construction and could possibly ‘open a temporary casino as early as May or June of 2021.’
The newspaper reported that Judge James Boasberg from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia has now agreed to this acceleration and ordered all parties involved in the lawsuit to submit their final legal documents in advance of a January 18 deadline. This could purportedly lead to the matter being heard as soon as February with Sneed confident that his tribe’s argument will ultimately prevail.
Reportedly read a statement from Sneed…
“The facts clearly show that the United States Department of the Interior acted illegally in granting the Catawba Indian Nation land in North Carolina for the express purpose of constructing an off-reservation casino. We remain confident that the United States Department of the Interior’s decision won’t withstand the scrutiny of the court and will be overturned.”