Quapaw Tribe aims to dispel concerns about casino in Arkansas

The Downstream Casino Resort in Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. Photo from Facebook

The Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma isn't pursuing a casino on ancestral land in Arkansas, Chairman John Berrey said.

The tribe acquired 160 acres of its former reservation for a total of $1.37 million. A land-into-trust application that was filed with the Bureau of Indian Affairs does not include gaming.

"That's something we're not even looking at," Berrey told The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The tribe, however, could change its mind. Nothing in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act would prevent the land from being used for a casino if -- sometime in the future -- the National Indian Gaming Commission issues a favorable determination for the site.

"I think that's our biggest concern," Little Rock director Lance Hines told Berrey at a . city council meeting, the paper reported. "What's to stop you from changing your mind?"

Artist's rendering shows the planned expansion at the Downstream Casino Resort. Image from Quapaw Tribe

That's the situation being confronted in Kansas. A land-into-trust application for 124 acres of a former reservation did not mention gaming either but the tribe now plans to use it for a $15 million expansion of the Downstream Casino Resort.

The state filed suit against the NIGC in March in hopes of reversing a favorable determination for the site. But an amended complaint also names Berrey and other tribal leaders as defendants and accuses the tribe of going back on its word.

"Basically, I think the attorney general of the state of Kansas and Governor Brownback are a bunch of racist Indian haters," Berrey said on a conference call with the media, KOAM reported.

Berrey said it was Gov. Sam Brownback (R) who urged the tribe to seek the NIGC determination. "I think it's ironic and disingenuous that somehow they're trying to make us into the liars," he told reporters, according to The Grove Sun.

Generally, land placed in trust after 1988 can't be used for a casino. But Section 20 of IGRA includes an exception for a tribe's "last recognized reservation" outside of Oklahoma.

The land in Kansas qualifies for the exception, the NIGC determined. Whether the Arkansas site also qualifies is an issue that hasn't been considered at this point.

The 160 acres in Arkansas are located near the Port of Little Rock, the Clinton Presidential Center and the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport. The tribe has discovered artifacts, burial grounds and even graves of former African slaves on the land.

"There's something physical that happens to us out here," Berrey told the Democrat-Gazette, referring to the spiritual nature of the land.

The BIA has asked local officials for their views about the land-into-trust request.

Get the Story:
Quapaw leader: No plans for casino on land near LR port (The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 4/21)
'None of your business' — Quapaw Tribal official blasts Kansas lawsuit, governor (The Grove Sun 4/20)
Kansas files injunction against Quapaw Tribe (The Cherokee County News-Advocate 4/18)
Kansas seeks court order to block Quapaw tribe casino (AP 4/18)
Quapaw Tribe chairman: State of Kansas has racist Indian haters (KOAM 4/17)
State Pushes to Prevent Downstream from Expanding into Kansas (Four States Homepage 4/17)

Relevant Documents:
NIGC Indian Land Opinion (November 2014)

Related Stories
Kansas seeks injunction to stop Quapaw Tribe gaming expansion (4/17)
Quapaw Tribe faces opposition over possible casino in Arkansas (04/16)
Quapaw Tribe did not include casino on land-into-trust request (03/26)
Quapaw Tribe insists a casino isn't focus of Arkansas land plan (3/25)
Quapaw Tribe faces opposition to potential casino in Arkansas (3/24)
Quapaw Tribe open to casino on historic homeland in Arkansas (3/23)
Quapaw Tribe promises fight to protect casino rights in Kansas (03/19)
Community in Arkansas reacts to possible Quapaw Tribe casino (02/25)
Quapaw Tribe won't rule out casino on historic land in Arkansas (2/21)

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