Creek Nation Could Hold Keys To River Development In Tulsa

Thursday, September 7th 2006, 11:29 am
By: News On 6

The Creek Nation and development within the Arkansas River in Tulsa.

News on 6 anchor Scott Thompson says the Creek Nation claims to have the rights to 100 miles of the Arkansas River.

Melvin Bevenue with the Muscogee Creek Nation: "The water, the rock, the sand, any mineral belongs to the Creek Nation." The tribe has held the rights to the river since 1852. It was part of a treaty signed by then-president Millard Fillmore.

The treaty allowed land not allotted to individuals to be retained by the Creek Nation. Since no one could build a homestead in the middle of the river, the Creeks kept control of this stretch of the Arkansas. "From water's edge, so many feet out, 80 percent of Riverside Drive is on Creek Nation land, legally."

The Creek Nation Casino in south Tulsa is on tribal land on the banks of the Arkansas River. Chief AD Ellis is confident the tribe will cooperate with developers. "What's good for the city of Tulsa is good for the Creek Nation."

The Creeks' claim to the river stretches from Cleveland, Oklahoma to Muskogee. After that, possession switches to the Cherokees.

Back in 2003, a floating casino couldn't stay docked at Webbers Falls without Cherokee tribal approval and without permission from the Creek Nation, plans for the Channels project could be sunk.

So far, the tribe's legal department tells the News on 6, there are not any offers on the table.