Legal Battle against Native American Tribe’s North Carolina Casino Project Intensifies after a Complaint Amendment

The legal fight of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians against the Kings Mountain casino project unveiled by the Catawba Indian Nation continues.

The beginning of the week saw the plaintiffs make an amended complaint to its federal lawsuit against the US Department of the Interior’s decision to allow the Catawba Indian Nation of South Carolina to take North Carolina land into trust to establish a casino venue. According to the Cherokee Indians, the land, over which the controversy occurred, is historically theirs and should not be given to the Catawba Indians.

With the latest amendment brought to their complaint to the court, more people have been included in the lawsuit. Currently, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and 12 of its members living in close proximity to the Kings Mountain are constituted as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Apart from that, the Tahlequah-based Cherokee Nation filed its own amended complaint, as they were seeking to protect cultural artifacts that belonged to the land where the proposed casino is supposed to be built.

The lawsuit was filed by the Native American tribe in federal court in D.C. in March, less than a week after the agency unveiled its decision on the land. A motion for a preliminary injunction that the Eastern Band filed in April was rejected by a judge following some findings that no irreparable harm was established by the plaintiffs.

Casino Developer Wallace Cheves Claimed to Be Behind the Land Acquisition

As mentioned above, the complaint challenges the Federal Government’s approval received in March 2020 by the Catawba Nation in regard to a piece of land in Kings Mountain where a Catawba casino has been planned.

Now, Richard G. Sneed, the Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, said in a press release that the Native American tribe welcomes the growing number of opponents of the US Department of the Interior’s decision. In his opinion, the DOI’s decision violated federal law, and the amended complaint continues to claim that there is no legal basis for such a decision.

The latest amended complaint of the Cherokee Nation based in Tahlequah, Oklahoma accuses the Catawba Indian Nation of making plans to collaborate with casino developer Wallace Cheves to establish a casino in both North and South Carolina. According to a statement of the plaintiffs, the Catawba Indian Nation of South Carolina let Wallace Cheves convince the tribe to get involved in the scheme under which it used its influence to reverse the original DOI’s position that this particular type of land should not be acquired into trust.

The plaintiffs back their allegations that the developer Wallace Cheves is actually the one behind the land acquisition citing facts that in 2007 two businessmen associated to the Catawba tribe pleaded guilty in a scheme of the tribe to make contributions to political candidates that could lobby against the existing gambling ban in South Carolina. Currently, most forms of gambling are still prohibited in the state.

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