- Catawba Indian Nation wants to create casino near Kings Mountain, North Carolina
- Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has introduced legislation that could help bring the casino plans to life
- S.790 would clarify language in the Catawba Indian Land Claims Settlement Act of 1993
In September 2014, the Catawba Indian Nation submitted an application for land trust and casino rights to the United States Department of the Interior. The tribe would like to create a casino near Kings Mountain, North Carolina. The application has been pending for several years. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has now introduced legislation that could help the tribe’s casino efforts.
Bypass the Interior Department
Graham’s bill would allow the casino process to bypass the Department of the Interior. The trust could be approved for the tribe by Congress. The goal of S.790 is to clarify language in the Catawba Indian Land Claims Settlement Act of 1993 so that the application would be acted upon instead of remaining in limbo as it has since 2014.
The tribe wants to create a huge gaming facility, 1.8 million square feet in size. The property would include a casino and a hotel and would create as many as 4,000 jobs, helping to stimulate the local economy.
Senator Graham said: “The Catawba Nation has been treated unfairly by the federal government, and our legislation rights that wrong. I hope this legislation will be quickly passed through the Congress and signed into law so we can once and for all bring resolution to this issue.”
The bill has support from other lawmakers, including Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, both of North Carolina. Senator Burr decided to sign on as a co-sponsor because the bill will clarify the language of the Settlement Act involving the tribe.
The project also has local support. The Cleveland County Board of Commissioners released a joint statement on the matter saying they welcome the opportunity to work with the Catawba Indian Nation should the project move forward.
Opposition from another tribe
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians opposes the bill. This tribe says that they encourage the Catawba Indian Tribe of South Carolina to develop their on-reservation economy in their community, but they do feel that the bill is a modern-day land grab by the federal government of their Cherokee aboriginal lands.
In rebuttal, Catawba Indian Nation Chief Bill Harris says that he has documents showing that the location proposed for the casino is Catawba aboriginal land.