New bill marks first move to bring Indian tribe casino to Cleveland County
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham introduced a bill Wednesday night that would set aside land along I-85 corridor in Cleveland County into a trust for the Catawba Indian Tribe to eventually be used to build a casino.
Behind Senator Graham in this endeavor are two North Carolina Senators listed as bill co-sponsors; Sen. Thom Tillis and Sen. Richard Burr.
Less than 12 hours after the bill was introduced, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians released a statement to WBTV in which they called the move to give a historically South Carolina Indian tribe North Carolina property “a modern day land grab.”
“The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ (EBCI) centuries-long North Carolina tradition has created a lasting partnership with the state to provide a strong future for generations through health care, education and business. While the tribe respects and encourages progress for other Native American communities, including South Carolina’s Catawba Indian Nation, the recent filing of a bill in the US Senate to give North Carolina land to the South Carolina tribe for an off-reservation casino is nothing more than a modern day land grab by the federal government of Cherokee aboriginal lands. This action circumvents the existing process for the Catawba Indian Nation to acquire lands in South Carolina, is unprecedented in US history, and a federal government bully tactic that should not be part of modern governing. We encourage the Catawba Indian Nation to go through the same process in their home state of South Carolina that the EBCI did in North Carolina to build their business – to develop their on-reservation economy as it should be - in their community. Doing it the right way will ensure they are able to take care of their members and support their local community as we’ve done for years in North Carolina.”
The Catawba Indian Nation is one of the indigenous Indian tribes that settled the Carolina Piedmont over 10,000 years ago, according to the Charlotte Museum of History. The Catawba were once regarded as one of the most powerful tribes in the Carolinas.
WBTV Investigative reporter Nick Ochsner believes this newly introduced bill “is the first move in what will be a long fight to bring a casino to Cleveland County.”
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