S.E. Ruckman: Oklahoma tribes leading way on land-into-trust

"An inventory of Oklahoma trust applications from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) shows that the 47,000-member Chickasaw Nation in Ada, Oklahoma has 37 applications pending, the most of any tribe in the state. The 69,000-member Muscogee (Creek) Nation in Okmulgee, Oklahoma has 28 applications and the 260,000-member Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, Oklahoma awaits results on 14 applications. The 28,000-member Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Shawnee, Oklahoma has eight applications pending. Comanche Nation (14,700 members) in Lawton, Oklahoma has seven, while the 12,000-member Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes in Concho, Oklahoma have four requests waiting to be approved. The Southern Plains gaming tribe awaits determinations on four plots, only one of which could be used for gaming in Elk City, Oklahoma, on the state’s far western border by Texas. The Tonkawa Tribe; Kaw Nation; Sac and Fox; Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and Seminole Nation are also awaiting rulings on trust claims.

Smaller tribes like the 14,300-member United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians (UKB) and the 3,200-member Quapaw Nation confirmed that while they did not make the BIA list for Oklahoma tribes with pending applications, each had filed applications for trust. About six months ago, the Quapaws applied on roughly 100 acres, says Tamara Smiley, tribal business committee member. The tribe’s flagship casino, Downstream Casino, is within sight of the land they have purchased, which sits on the intersection of the borders of Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. Close by, in Cherokee County in Oklahoma, the UKB had been awaiting a determination on a trust application for a 76-acre plot it purchased that now houses their community services building, wellness center, elder center and child development center. The UKB application had been pending since 2004. The UKB were a landless tribe until May, when they received a favorable decision from Assistant Secretary Echo Hawk that will recognize the tribe’s 76 acres of purchased land to become Indian country, according to the BIA ruling."

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S.E. Ruckman: Oklahoma Indians Guiding the Way for Land-into-Trust (Indian Country Today 6/21)

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