Broken Arrow Residents Favored Casino
BROKEN ARROW, Oklahoma - For the first time, two neighbors of the Kialegee property in Broken Arrow talk about why they support the tribe's efforts to build something on the land.
Developers have pulled a casino off the table and say they now want to open a sports bar.
Opponents of the casino have had quite a lot to celebrate over the past week. But a couple who lives close to the casino is upset that so many of their neighbors have fought against it.
"We actually live closer to the casino than anyone," Mike Bergman said.
Mike and Shelly Bergman live just south of where the Kialegee Tribal Town had planned to build the Red Clay Casino.
"They're trying to make their own way, their own money with their land, and I respect that," Mike said.
Dozens of other residents who live near the casino site have been protesting its development since before Christmas. But the Bergman's have remained quiet until now.
They admit the city didn't handle the situation properly but call the firestorm created by these residents a "shame".
"I think we have a neighborhood that's just fighting for their own interests and not looking at the big picture," Mike said.
The Bergman's point to the Hard Rock Casino in Catoosa as an example of what a casino can do for its community.
The Cherokee Nation says it's donated more than $12-million in land and cash to improve a nearby intersection and that it has donated tens of thousands of dollars to community groups in Catoosa.
"Look what it's done for that community over there," Mike said. "It was a ghost town. Now it's starting to be a thriving metropolis and it's all because of the Cherokee casino."
They're also upset over what they believe are racial overtones against Native Americans, especially over one the landowners Marcella Giles.
They say message boards and websites have made crude, stereotypical comments about Native Americans and they want it to stop.
The Bergman's say the casino would be good for Broken Arrow and help a tribe that is struggling.
"I'd like to see it end with the casino that they deserve," Shelly said. "But in the meantime, if they can put in a sports bar and start generating some income, I think they should absolutely let them."
Neither Mike or Shelly Bergman are members of the Kialegee Tribal Town or Creek Nation. A judge will not rule whether to lift an injunction that has stopped construction at the site until at least mid-July.