"Heard at the Grounds"

“Heard at the Grounds”: Giving Local Communities a Voice in Tribal Gaming Act


By ef mouss

What began as an endeavor of a small Federally

Granite nameplate designating the Broken Arrow Tribal Town at the Muscogee Nation War Memorial located at the Creek Nation Capital Complex. The city of Broken Arrow was named after this tribal town.

recognized tribe to engage in the most successful economic development initiative in Indian Country and individual Indian heir(s) to a restricted Indian allotment seeking to realize the highest and best use of their inheritance has now been thrust into the limelight of amending the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA); specifically 25 U.S.C. 2710(d). United States Congressman John Sullivan, from Oklahoma, has introduced such legislation; (i.e. see HR 4033 below.)

Ironically, Indian Gaming began as a gutsy move by leadership of small tribes seeking innovative ways to raise tribal revenues and fund needed tribal services. The early days of Indian Gaming was a case study of “investment risk” and tribal governments seeking ways to attract that needed investment capital and avoid getting ‘ripped off’. Not all succeeded.

Under the guise of a regulatory scheme, Congress framed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Tribal governments now had a legal framework by which to engage in the most successful economic development framework since United States and Indian Relations began. In my mind the framework for Indian Economic Development in Gaming had been successfully implemented. Of course, there are still bumps in the road, (going forward) which need to be addressed under the existing framework; but, these ‘bumps and dips’ uncovered a need for “constructive solutions”. For example, this small tribe is ‘landless’ with little or no chance for an “Indian economic base” perhaps due to inconsistent Federal policy. The “restricted Indian allotment” in question needs a “Federal economic bailout” as does most restricted lands which remain unproductive and far short of their ”most highest and best use”.

Kialegee development

Sign Posted by the Kialegee Government in July 2010 before development began.

In a previous article I discussed governance, leadership and jurisdiction. In all the good ole’ boy speak, there has not been one utterance of this scarce and valuable resource, which begs the question,” is the Congressman forward looking? By forward looking, I mean solution oriented. In my opinion there is a formal avenue for local community input and benefits. Mr. Sullivan apparently is not aware of all the local communities benefitting from the local school districts, walking trails, highway construction, and community organizations presently benefitting, especially where non-Indian employment versus Indian employment is over 10 to 1. It has been my experience that Tribal Governments have contacted local officials prior to putting in casinos, health clinics, assisting with law enforcement and a myriad of initiatives.

Finally, I wish to offer an amendment. Amend proposed amendment (10)(A) to include and read: “after each county. city, Add: “Tribal Government located within the State” or other….” This amendment would assure that all Tribal Governments affected by the decision have a say in the matter and are not excluded by this legislation.

Perhaps the local Tribal Towns of Broken Arrow, Chiaha, and Coweta could have benefited from local actions which affected their lives.

Below is the full text of Oklahoma Rep. John Sullivan’s proposed amendment to IGRA-

H.R.4033 — Giving Local Communities a Voice in Tribal Gaming Act (Introduced in House – IH)

HR 4033 IH
2d Session
H. R. 4033
To amend the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act to provide for community approval before Indian class III gaming operations may take effect.
February 15, 2012
Mr. SULLIVAN introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources
To amend the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act to provide for community approval before Indian class III gaming operations may take effect.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
This Act may be cited as the `Giving Local Communities a Voice in Tribal Gaming Act’.
Section 11(d) of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (25 U.S.C. 2710(d)) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
`(10)(A) No Class III gaming activities may commence, irrespective of an approved Tribal-State Compact, unless the elected governing body and elected executive officials of each county, city, or other general purpose political subdivision in which a class III gaming activity under the Tribal-State Compact is to occur have approved the Class III gaming facility.
`(B) The manner in which a Class III gaming facility is approved under subparagraph (A) shall be determined by each political subdivision.
`(C) Each political subdivision shall have 120 days after the date that a Tribal-State Compact is approved by the Department of Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs and National Indian Gaming Commission or the site of a class III gaming facility is identified, whichever comes later, to raise objection.
`(D) For the purposes of subparagraph (A), a Tribal-State Compact includes a compact approved under paragraph (8) or consented to under paragraph (7)(B)(vi), and the procedures for a class III gaming activity prescribed under paragraph (7)(B)(vii).’.
The amendments made by this Act shall apply to any Tribal-State compact that has not been entered into under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act before January 1, 2011.

Mr. Mouss served with the U.S. Congress’ American Indian Policy Commission; Creek Nation Housing Authority Commissioner; First Election Board for the Creek Nation; Adjct Prof Univ of Okla and Okla St Univ; Tribal Co-chair for PL 93-638 Federal Negotiated Rule-Making Committee; Federal Chair for the Contract Support Work Group; Director for Information Resource Mgmt/IHS/HHS; Chief Self-Determination Services/Interior; Chair Okla and Nat’l Indian Health Board, numerous National Tribal/Federal Taskforces and Work groups, Creek Interpreter-Okfuskee Cty Dist. Court.


About Tribal Town Radio

Web project of Muscogee (Creek) Citizens Coalition Inc. Muscogee (Creek) Citizens Coalition Inc. is an web-based not for profit organization registered with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. The vision of the M(C)CC is to help build stronger communities through the use of technology and the sharing of information.


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February 2012
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Tribal Town Radio

Tribal Town Radio is the official web blog of Muscogee (Creek) Citizens Coalition Inc. Muscogee (Creek) Citizens Coalition Inc. is a web-based not for profit organization. Copyright 2011- 12. All rights reserved.
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