Corps of Engineers seeking legal action to get riverboat moved

Thursday, May 15th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

GORE, Okla. (AP) _ Legal action being sought by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could sink an Indian tribe's efforts to turn a docked riverboat into a floating casino.

The 214-foot vessel, called the Southern Star, has been tied down in the Arkansas River for five months. Corps spokesman Ross Adkins said it should've been moved down river several months ago.

The owners, a Webbers Falls-based group calling itself the Southern Cherokee Nation, has not responded to the corps' questions recently, officials said.

``We'll just have to go for legal remedies,'' Adkins said Wednesday. ``The focus is to get it moved.''

Corps attorney Keith Francis has discussed the boat with U.S. Attorney Sheldon Sperling in Muskogee. Sperling said his office could not consider an investigation until it receives a written report from the corps.

The Southern Cherokees, a group not recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, hoped to take advantage of gaming laws favoring American Indians and open the boat as a casino. But the corps denied their request.

Southern Cherokee Chief Gary Ridge could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, nor could the group's management company, Dockside Entertainment.

Shirley Taylor, a secretary for the Southern Cherokees, told the Tulsa World that the group was still remodeling the Southern Star.

``They've got a crew out there every day,'' Taylor said.