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Official tells Chickasaw land-into-trust tactics

The Chickasaw Nation intended to "mislead" the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the tribe's land-into-trust requests, a former top official says.

David Brown, the tribe's lieutenant governor from 1991 to 1999, says the tribe would tell the BIA that the land was going to be used for a parking lot, a smokeshop or another non-gaming purposes. This allows the tribe to skip the lengthy and costly review process for gaming-related acquisitions.

Then, Brown says, the tribe would use the land for gaming. "That was the whole intent, to mislead but knowing that you're going to put gaming on it," he tells The Daily Oklahoman. The paper said Wilson Seawright, a current tribal legislator, agreed with the description of the tribe's tactics.

A current tribal official denied Brown's claims. Yet the tribe has seen its land base quadruple after 1988 -- when the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act barred gaming on new land acquisitions unless certain exceptions are met.

Other tribes -- mostly in the western part of Oklahoma -- say they are forced to go through the lengthy exception process. But the Chickasaws, and a handful of other tribes in eastern Oklahoma, get to skip this part. The Cherokees and the Choctaws also received speedy land-into-trust decisions, but smaller tribes, like the Quapaw, have seen delays.

George Skibine, the acting deputy assistant secretary for economic development and policy and head of the BIA's Indian Gaming Office, says he is concerned about the practice. In interviews with Indianz.Com, he says gaming-related acquisitions must go through his office. In the past four years, only one of the Chickasaw's applications for land has gone to him, and a decision is still pending.

Assistant secretary Dave Anderson has recused himself from all gaming-related acquisitions. They are to be handled by Mike Olsen, the principal deputy assistant secretary.

Get the Story:
Some tribes skirt land rules (The Daily Oklahoman 10/23)
Cases trouble tribal overseer (The Daily Oklahoman 10/23)

Relevant Links:
Chickasaw Nation -

Related Stories:
Cole says Chickasaw Nation made promises on land (09/16)
BIA approves compact for gaming on former reservation (03/25)
Chickasaw Nation land purchases quadruple (03/23)
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Indian gaming law not always followed (5/14)
Okla. tribe leaps over Indian gaming hurdles (04/23)
Chickasaw Nation 'followed the law' (6/28)
Tribe's land approvals questioned (6/11)