his week, the Catawba Indian Nations’ North Carolina casino received more bipartisan support in Congress as U.S. House members introduced a bill called the Catawba Indian Nation Lands Act.
The legislation reaffirms a U.S. Interior department decision in March to put the casino land in trust. The designation gives the Catawba Nation the right to develop a casino, the Charlotte Observer previously reported.
On Aug. 28, tribe officials announced the name of the casino as Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort.
Catawba Nation officials broke ground in July on the casino, which the Eastern Band of the Cherokees continues to contest in court. The Cherokees also operate casinos in Western North Carolina.
The Catawba Nation land is off Interstate 85 in Kings Mountain, Cleveland County, 35 miles from Charlotte.
“These are the lands of not just our ancestors, but also the hundreds of Catawba citizens that reside there today,” Catawba Nation Chief Bill Harris told Native Business Magazine in an article published Friday.
Members who introduced the bill were Reps. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C.; Jim Clyburn, D-S.C.; William Timmons, R-S.C.; Dan Bishop, R-N.C.; Joe Cunningham, D-S.C.; Alma Adams, D-N.C.; David Price, D-N.C.; and Joe Wilson, R-S.C.
The Catawbas also began efforts this summer for a compact from the state of North Carolina that would permit Vegas-style gaming at the casino, the Observer reported at the time. The $273 million casino could open next year, according to the tribe.
‘Two Kings’ casino
The two kings in the casino’s name are King Hagler and the city of Kings Mountain, Harris said in a video on the Catawba Nation Facebook page. Harris called King Hagler, chief of the Catawbas in the mid-1700s, “the greatest leader of our nation.”
According to the tribe’s Aug. 28 Facebook post, “Two Kings also represents our tribe’s long history of working with those around us, which King Hagler made a central part of his leadership.”
Harris said “two kings” also is a gaming name: “A pair of kings is a great hand,” he said in the video.
Also in late August, the tribe unveiled a casino logo that features a silhouette of King Hagler against an image of Kings Mountain.
The tribe developed the logo with Delaware North, its gaming business partner.
The Cherokees, who have operated casinos since 1997, have called the Catawbas’ efforts “a modern-day land grab.”
The Catawbas say their right to the land stems from a 1993 agreement that gave them federal recognition. The agreement also gave them a “service area” in six N.C. counties, including Mecklenburg and Cleveland, the Observer previously reported.
Tribe members who live in those counties are eligible for the same federal benefits and services as those on the reservation. Their claim to the casino land is based on that.