Work begins on casino that’s pitting tribe against tribe

Construction is underway on a North Carolina casino owned by the South Carolina-based Catawba Indian Nation, even as additional plaintiffs join a lawsuit seeking to block the project.

The Catawba Indian Nation broke ground July 22 on its Kings Mountain casino near Charlotte.

Early last month, 12 members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina joined their tribe as plaintiffs against the U.S. Interior Department over its taking of what they say is Cherokee land into trust for the Catawba.

The Eastern Cherokees seek to reverse the Interior’s action. The additional plaintiffs live at or near the casino site.

Their complaint claims the Catawba project is driven by  a developer with ties to previous gaming businesses that encountered legal trouble. The Eastern Cherokees were unsuccessful earlier in getting an injunction against the transfer.

The attorney representing the Catawba tribe, Daniel S. Volchok, wrote in his answer filed July 30: “The Catawba denies that the Cherokee historical territory encompassed where the Kings Mountain site is located.”

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