In a move that has stirred up controversy, Wednesday reportedly saw United States Senator Lindsey Graham (pictured) introduce federal legislation that would allow the Catawba Indian Nation to take a plot of border land in North Carolina into trust for the purposes of building a $560 million casino resort.
According to Thursday reports from local television broadcaster WBTV and Casino.org, the proposed measure from the South Carolina Republican was co-sponsored by his counterparts from neighboring North Carolina, United States Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, and would see the tribe authorized to purchase the land utilizing some $50 million it was awarded at the same time as having its federal recognition restored in 1993.
Kings Mountain proposal:
The proposed site for the Catawba Indian Nation’s casino resort is reportedly located in Cleveland County near the North Carolina community of Kings Mountain and only some 30 miles from the region’s largest city, Charlotte. The tribe purportedly wants to construct a ‘major brand name’ facility offering gambling and is known to have held talks with the operator behind the Hard Rock chain of hotels and casinos, the federally-recognized Seminole Tribe of Florida.
However, the majority of the Catawba Indian Nation’s members reportedly reside in South Carolina while North Carolina is already home to the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino and Hotel facilities from the federally-recognized Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. This latter group is purportedly perturbed by the actions of Graham and has since referred to the 63-year-old’s proposal as ‘a modern day land grab by the federal government of Cherokee aboriginal lands’.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians reportedly released an official statement where it additionally described the proposed legislation as ‘unprecedented in United States history’. The tribe moreover purportedly proclaimed that the measure ‘circumvents the existing process for the Catawba Indian Nation to acquire lands in South Carolina’ and is simply ‘a federal government bully tactic that should not be part of modern governing’.
Reportedly read the statement from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians…
“The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ centuries-long North Carolina tradition has created a lasting partnership with the state to provide a strong future for generations through health care, education and business. We encourage the Catawba Indian Nation to go through the same process in its home state of South Carolina that the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians did in North Carolina to build its business; to develop its on-reservation economy as it should be, in its community. Doing it the right way will ensure it is able to take care of its members and support its local community as we’ve done for years in North Carolina.”
In response, the Catawba Indian Nation reportedly asserted that it considers all of South Carolina as well as a number of counties in North Carolina to be part of its ancestral lands. The tribe purportedly also cited its connection to the Battle of Kings Mountain in which its members fought alongside Patriot militias during the American Revolutionary War against forces loyal to the British Crown. It allegedly proclaimed that the site of this 1780 battle lies only a few miles south of the land it would like to take into trust.