Cherokee Nation Files Suit To Close United Keetoowah Band Casino - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

Cherokee Nation Files Suit To Close United Keetoowah Band Casino

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File photo. File photo.
TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma -

The Cherokee Nation filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking an injunction and temporary restraining order to close a United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indian casino in Tahlequah.

The suit in federal court in Muskogee concerns a pending Bureau of Indian Affairs decision to place the casino property into trust.

In a news release, the Cherokee Nation says the UKB has "been operating an illegal gaming facility on 2.03 acres located in Tahlequah, the capital city of the Cherokee Nation, for more than 18 years."

"The attempt by the BIA to place land into trust for another tribe or band of Indians in our jurisdiction is contrary to law, and we intend to prove that in court," said Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree. "The Cherokee Nation will do everything in its power to preserve the integrity of our sovereignty."

The state of Oklahoma sued the UKB to stop its gaming operations in 2004. The case was moved to United States District Court a year later. The UKB was able to continue gaming with a federal temporary injunction while the land-into-trust issue was resolved.

The UKB reached an agreement with the state of Oklahoma to either cease gaming or have the land taken into trust by July 31, 2013.

The Cherokee Nation says the Bureau of Indian Affairs recently notified the tribe it was proceeding with the UKB's trust application and it is that notification which prompted Tuesday's filing.

"Only the Cherokee Nation can exercise authority in our historical jurisdiction," Hembree said.

The UKB says the casino is the backbone of the tribe. Casino general manager Rod Fourkiller told News On 6 in 2012 the casino pumps $133 million a year into Tahlequah's economy.

The United Keetoowah Bank of Cherokee Indians also owns another 76 acres in Tahlequah that has already been put into trust status.

7/27/2012 Related Story: Deadline Approaching For Embattled Tahlequah Casino

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