Catawba Nation waits for BIA decision on off-reservation casino

Artist's rendering of proposed Catawba Nation casino in North Carolina. Image from Catawba Nation Project Brief

The Catawba Nation is waiting for the Bureau of Indian Affairs to take action on its off-reservation casino bid in North Carolina.

The tribe wants to build a $600 million casino on 16 acres in Cleveland County. The land-into-trust application was submitted nearly 15 months ago but there's no timeline for a decision.

Local officials support the project. Some residents -- mainly those with strong religious views -- have been holding meetings to express their opposition to the project.

The tribe is primarily based in South Carolina. But Catawba Indian Tribe of South Carolina Land Claims Settlement Act defines a service area for the tribe in North Carolina and South Carolina.

The proposed gaming site falls within the service area. The law requires the BIA to place up to 3,600 acres in trust for the tribe's reservation.

Despite the mandatory nature of the acquisition, the BIA does not typically move quickly. In the case of the Tohono O'odham Nation in Arizona, the agency took 18 months to make a decision.

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