Attorney For Proposed Broken Arrow Casino Confident It Will Be Built
BROKEN ARROW, Oklahoma - A Washington, DC attorney who represents the Kialegee Tribal Town tells News On 6, federal law is on their side and he is confident the Broken Arrow casino will be built.
We talked with attorney Dennis Whittlesey Wednesday about the Red Clay Casino project which is being developed on 20 acres of land.
The casino has nearby residents worried about crime and politicians trying to stop it, but last week G. William Rice of the Native American Law Center says the casino is a win-win for Kialegees and Broken Arrow.
"The public outcry is political, it's not legal," said attorney Dennis Whittlesey.
The Kialegee Tribal Town is a federally recognized tribe but it's also part of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
"Understand that tribal town is a political entity and not a place," Whittlesey said.
The main question from those opposed to the casino is who has jurisdiction over the land. The Creeks claim they do because its tribal members own the land, but Whittlesey says it's not that simple.
He says that tribal towns within a confederacy, such as the Creek Confederacy, have just as much jurisdiction over any land within the tribe's original reservation.
"So there is a concurrent jurisdiction over all of the lands that is guaranteed to each of the tribal, the recognized Creek tribes as a matter of treaty. Until any less federal law revokes that shared jurisdiction, it is concurrent," Whittlesey said.
Whittlesey says a black and white picture showing a Kialegee flag flying from a house on the property is proof that the Kialegees have exercised government control over the land.
"They may have put a flag up for a picture, but a flag is not there now and I've never seen it there when I've driven by there," said Jared Cawley, who is part of the Broken Arrow Citizens Against Neighborhood Gaming.
Cawley is an attorney who lives near the development and is leading the charge against the casino. He says the Kialegees have no authority over the land and says so-called evidence of government control is misleading.
He's worried if this casino goes through it will set a bad precedent for the state.
"There are over 39 federally recognized tribes in this state, not every one of them has casinos in prime areas, but if this goes through that will happen," Cawley said.
Whittlesey says the Kialegees are simply following the law, they have every permit they need, and he doesn't see construction stopping anytime soon.
Whittlesey says we should be hearing much more from the developers in the future. He said the chief of the Kialegees will meet with the media soon. He doesn't know if the Kialegees plan to meet with concerned residents.