Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA In the battle over protection of an historical ceremonial and burial ground, known as Hickory Ground in Wetumpka, Alabama, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation yesterday filed a federal lawsuit to halt construction of a casino being built by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
Hickory Ground in Wetumpka, Alabama
The suit claims the Poarch Band of Creek Indians knowingly excavated approximately 57 sets of human remains and relocated the remains in April 2012 to develop a $246 million casino on Hickory Ground.
Hickory Ground is listed on the National Register of Historical Places because it was the last capital of the Creek Nation before forced removal to Indian Territory, in what is now Oklahoma, and because previously undisturbed Muscogee burials are located there.
The lawsuit is filed against the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and its officials, construction contractors Flintco, LLC and Martin Construction Inc., Auburn University and the US Department of the Interior.
The federal lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. It claims:
The lawsuit seeks preservation of Hickory Ground, and does not seek monetary damages.
“From the beginning, it has been our stance that the remains should be put back where they were excavated,”
said Mekko George Thompson, who has served as the traditional Muscogee Chief of the Hickory Tribal Town for 42 years.
“The ceremonial ground is sacred, so it is not a proper place for a casino,”
The Poarch Band of Creek operates three casinos. The issue at hand involves the Tribe's expansion of its existing Creek Casino Wetumpka. The planned expansion of the Wetumpka casino would include a 20 story hotel with 285 rooms, and a 90,000 square foot gaming floor with more than 2,500 gaming devices.
posted December 13, 2012 3:50 pm est