Federally recognized in both South Carolina and North Carolina, the Catawba Indian Nation has high hopes for two significant projects in the not so distant future: one a multi-million-dollar movie studio in partnership with Studio South of Charlotte to be built on the Catawba Indian Reservation; the other, proving to be a bit more elusive, a $600 million casino-hotel complex in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, according to Creative Loafing Charlotte.
The latter has been in the works since September 2013 when the tribe submitted a land into trust application for 16 acres of land in Kings Mountain, where the tribe has plans to build a $600 million resort. While the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is mandated by the 1993 Catawba Indian Tribe of South Carolina Land Claims Settlement Act to place 3,600 acres of land in trust for the Catawba in an area covering North and South Carolina, it isn’t required to adhere to any timeline and has yet to make a decision.
For the most part, the public seems to be in support of the casino. Almost 2,000 Kings Mountain residents showed that support by signing a petition calling for the BIA’s approval of the tribe’s land-to-trust application. However, not everyone agrees that the casino’s impact will be a positive one for the surrounding community, and the group making the most noise is the Kings Mountain Awareness Group (KMAG). While the 1.8 million-square-foot facility, which would feature a hotel and casino could employ upward of 5,000 people, the KMAG has opposed the project since the application was submitted to the BIA by the tribe over two years ago. Since then, the group founded by Adam Forcade, that has upwards of 1,700 members on its Facebook page, has painted the proposal as immoral and one that could potentially damage the community.
According to the group’s Facebook page, a message was delivered to the Kings Mountain City Council, which met Tuesday night, stating that, “The proposed illegal casino has reached further into the community than anyone would have ever thought. I think it also obvious, especially when you consider the recent election results that the community as a whole is not in support of this unconstitutional project.” According to Forcade, the casino “encourages inequality,” and targets the poor. This year Forcade hopes to change the minds of more local officials in an effort to sway the BIA’s decision. A letter of support was signed by six of seven city council members that was said to represent the community at the time the BIA received the application, but according to Forcade, the process was conducted behind closed doors without any feedback from the community or education. The BIA doesn’t comment on pending applications, so it’s anyone’s guess as to when a decision will be made, however, it is believed by people on both sides of the fence that a decision will be made in the coming months. Forcade says he will continue his efforts until that day.
Talks between the Catawba and Hard Rock International in Orlando regarding the managing of the facility were confirmed by the tribe in July 2015. The tribe said the complex would create several thousand jobs and generate $300 million its first year, according to the Shelby Star.