United Keetoowah Band hails BIA action on land-into-trust

The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians of Oklahoma welcomed a long-awaited decision on its land-into-trust application amid threats of litigation from a rival tribe.

The UKB submitted the application for 76 acres in June 2004. After two negative rulings, the Bureau of Indian Affairs approved the application on Tuesday.

“We have fought for seven years to obtain this historic decision, which recognizes the tribe’s ability to properly serve our tribal members on our treaty lands,” said Chief George Wickliffe.

The site is home to the tribe's dance grounds, a community gathering and celebration place, an elder center and other government buildings. Barring any legal challenges, it will be the tribe's first parcel of trust land.

“The decision is significant in that it will enable the tribal council to continue to expand the scope of services that will improve the lives of our tribal members," said Assistant Chief Charles Locust.

The Cherokee Nation, however, is threatening to sue the BIA. The tribe claims exclusive jurisdiction over Indian land within its former reservation.

The BIA said the 76-acre site will be declared Indian Country and will be subject to the jurisdiction of the UKB.

Relevant Documents:
May 24, 2011, Decision | September 10, 2010, Decision

Related Stories:
BIA approves United Keetoowah Band land-into-trust bid (5/25)
United Keetoowah Band hopeful for BIA land-into-trust approval (9/23)
Echo Hawk affirms UKB's right to follow land-into-trust process (09/13)
BIA holds off on Keetoowah Band land-into-trust (6/26)

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