Native American Legal Update
Muscogee Creek Nation Demands Halt to Poarch Band Wetumpka Casino Project
The Muscogee Creek Nation (currently located in Oklahoma) is demanding that the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (currently located in Alabama) halt plans to build a mega-casino on sacred land in Wetumpka, Alabama. The site for the new mega-casino is located on the Muscogee Creek Nation's ancestral land--specifically, a grave site and ceremonial grounds. Hickory Ground, known as "Oce Vpofa" in the Muscogee language, was the last capital of the National Council of the Muscogee Creek Nation prior to forced removal by the federal government in the 1830s.
Muscogee Creek Nation Principal Chief George Tiger stated that the Nation is committed to protecting its sacred grounds. "We have attempted to convey to the Poarch Band why it is wrong to disturb the peace of our ancestors and burial grounds. However, the Poarch Band does not seem to share our cultural values and respect our traditional ways."
The Poarch Band, which already operates three casinos in the state, announced in July that it would expand its casino in Wetumpka. The Band plans to expand its casino in Wetumpka by spending $246 million to build a 20-story hotel tower with 285 rooms and a 90,000 square foot gaming floor with more than 2,500 electronic gaming machines.
While the Poarch Band states that it is working to protect and preserve the remains, the Muscogee Creek Nation claims that the Band excavated approximately 60 human remains to build the current casino, and that the expansion will cause further desecration of the sacred site. The Nation passed a law affirming support for protection of Hickory Ground and authorizing funding to protect the site, and plans to file legal action if construction does not stop. The Nation also initiated a fundraising effort to save Hickory Ground.
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