Quapaw Tribe sees more opposition to Arkansas land-into-trust

This robe from the 18th century depicts Quapaw villages in Arkansas, where the tribe lived before being forced to leave. Photo from Shonagon / Wikipedia

The Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma doesn't plan to use ancestral land in Arkansas for a casino but politicians in the state continue to stir opposition.

Four members of the state's Congressional delegation want the Bureau of Indian Affairs to deny the tribe's land-into-trust application for 160 acres in Pulaski County. They claim placing the land in trust will be "drastic and disruptive" to the state.

"Given that there are approximately 300 miles between the reservation and the proposed land, we expect your office will give substantial deference to the steps the state of Arkansas has previously taken to protect these lands,” the members of Congress wrote, The Fort Smith Times-Record reported.

Sen. John Boozman (R) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R) signed the letter. Both have received campaign contributions from the tribe, whose members lived in Arkansas before being forced to leave.

Chairman John Berrey has insisted the land won't be used for a casino. The land-into-trust application mentions a desire to protect the site, where artifacts, burial grounds and even graves of former African slaves have been discovered.

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

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 did not mention gaming either but the tribe now plans to use the property for a $15 million expansion of the Downstream Casino Resort.

The state is suing the NIGC and the tribe in hopes of preventing the land from being used for gaming.

Get the Story:
Arkansas lawmakers oppose Quapaw tribe's move to put land in trust (The Joplin Globe 7/10)
Arkansas delegates join in debate over Indian land (KTHV 7/8)
Arkansas Delegates Oppose Placing Indian Land In Federal Trust (KSFM 7/9)
Arkansas Lawmakers Oppose Quapaw Attempts To Place Land in Federal Trust (The Fort Smith Times Record 7/9)

Relevant Documents:
NIGC Indian Land Opinion For Site in Kansas (November 2014)

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Quapaw Tribe blames non-Indian track in Arkansas for opposition (06/08)
Quapaw Tribe looks to dispel concerns about casino in Arkansas (05/27)
John Berrey: Governor in Kansas turns back on Quapaw Tribe (5/19)
Quapaw Tribe still facing questions about casino in Arkansas (05/13)
Editorial: State needs assurances from Quapaw Tribe on gaming (04/23)
Quapaw Tribe aims to dispel concerns about casino in Arkansas (4/21)

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