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WETUMPKA, ALABAMA The Poarch Band of Creek Indians has resumed its development plans for a hotel and casino on land it owns in Wetumpka, Alabama. Construction was halted at 5:00 pm on October 16th after the Five Civilized Tribes Support Halt to Casino Expansion.
Earlier this Year Muscogee Nation Members
Protested the Wetumpka Casino
This decision comes after leadership from Poarch Creek and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in Oklahoma could once again meet to discuss the concerns of both tribes. Poarch Creek made the decision to resume construction after meeting in Oklahoma this week with elected leaders of the Muscogee Nation and traditional leaders of Hickory Ground Town (a traditional Indian town within the Muscogee Nation).
“We have been extremely careful to plan a development that is culturally sensitive while ensuring the economic well-being of our Tribal members, our community, and our State. It is a balanced, reasonable approach for using land that we own, which has been met with increased opposition from some in Oklahoma.”
Poarch Band Tribal Council Member Arthur Mothershed remarked.
“Now, we are being faced with demands to remove ancestral remains that have already been reinterred. We can ensure that no more remains will be excavated. It has been almost eight years since any remains have been unearthed. We cannot change the fact that remains were found and removed. Those remains are now reinterred and we cannot support disturbing those remains again.”
Poarch Band Tribal Council Member Arthur Mothershed continued.
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Okmulgee, Oklahoma and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians of Atmore, Alabama were originally both part of the Muscogee confederation of Indian Tribes that ruled much of what is now the Southeast United States. While both the Poarch Creek and the Muscogee Nation have cultural ties to the land, it was the wealthier Poarch Creek band that purchased approximately 34 acres of the original 1,000 acre site in 1980. Poarch Creek is under no legal obligation to negotiate with Muscogee Nation government about the use of ancestral lands.
“We are indeed saddened by the outcome of this recent trip to Oklahoma made by representatives of our Tribal Council,”
said Buford L Rolin, Poarch Creek's Tribal Chairman.
“Since 2006, we have reached out to the Muscogee Nation with the hope that they would be open to understanding the facts about the 21st century conditions of what was once Hickory Ground Town and would recognize that our development in Wetumpka does not alter that. Unfortunately we have reached an impasse.”
“We have taken great effort to make sure the original Hickory Ground ceremonial site is preserved, and the remains that were removed in earlier years have been reinterred at Hickory Ground Town in a manner previously agreed to by traditional leaders in Oklahoma. The remaining acreage located on the northern part of Hickory Ground will be preserved in a pristine, natural state for posterity,”
said Robert McGhee, who heads the Tribe's Governmental Affairs Office and is a Poarch Tribal Council Member.
The development originally included a cultural center as well as a hotel and casino, but Poarch Creek modified the plans after Muscogee Nation and Hickory Ground representatives expressed concerns about the site on which the center would be located. Poarch Creek leadership is now reviewing those plans and has made a commitment to build a center on a nearby site as it moves forward with the hotel and casino development.
Poarch Creek's Tribal Council reports that it will also set aside appropriate acreage of pristine land that has never been subject to agricultural use or development that can be used by Poarch Creek, as well as by other Tribes who may be facing sensitive issues of re-interment. The Tribal Council hopes to establish a historical and cultural preservation fund that will be made available to other tribes to support their preservation efforts.
“We respect the past, acknowledge the present, and recognize the challenges of the future. This development is a reasonable approach to land use; and no one cares more about the sanctity of our land and the well-being of our people and our neighbors than we do.”
Chairman Rolin said.
posted November 5, 2012 8:57 am est
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