Archive for Thursday, August 8, 2013

Indian tribe that purchased North Lawrence property involved in casino-related lawsuit

August 8, 2013


The Oklahoma-based Indian tribe that purchased nearly 90 acres of prime North Lawrence property is embroiled in a federal lawsuit that suggests the tribe recently had strong interest in building a casino in Kansas.

Documents filed as part of a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Tulsa, Okla., included a June 2011 development agreement that the Delaware Tribe of Indians signed with a company that would be involved with financing and building a casino in Kansas, at an undisclosed location somewhere near Kansas City.

Since the Delaware tribe last month purchased 87 acres of highly visible property near the North Lawrence interchange on the Kansas Turnpike, tribal leaders have declined to discuss whether they have any interest in putting an Indian gaming casino on the property. The tribe has expressed interest in using the land for housing, health care and child care facilities to serve the state's Native American population. There also have been published reports that the tribe is considering moving its headquarters to Kansas.

In 2000, the tribe expressed strong interest in building a casino near North Lawrence, but dropped those plans. The lawsuit, which was filed in February, indicates the tribe's interest in a Kansas casino has lingered. The tribe reportedly has also inquired about property in Leavenworth County and told county officials a casino was a possibility there.

It's not clear what connection the tribe's Kansas City and Leavenworth ambitions may have to its land purchase in Lawrence. A tribal leader didn't return phone calls Thursday seeking comment.

According to court records, the Delaware tribe and its affiliated Delaware Enterprise Authority signed a development agreement in 2010 with Ohio-based River Trails LLC. The original agreement was focused on River Trails finding a site and financing to house a Delaware Indian casino on property near Cincinnati.

But the documents show that in mid-2011, Delaware leaders successfully sought a change in the agreement that would shift the focus to finding a casino site in the "greater Kansas City area of the state of Kansas."

According to court records, the focus on Kansas may be related to a settlement agreement the tribe is negotiating with the U.S. Department of Interior and the Department of Justice. The filings show that the Delaware filed a complaint in 2002 that the federal government had not properly disbursed judgment funds awarded to the tribe.

The records show that in 2011, the tribe still was in settlement negotiations with the two federal agencies. The development agreement includes statements that there have been discussions between the tribe and the federal agencies that a future settlement could include an agreement to place recently acquired lands into federal trust.

Placing property into trust is one of the steps required before Indian land can be used to locate a casino. Currently, the Delaware tribe is considered landless because it occupies land in Oklahoma controlled by the Cherokee Nation.

The development agreement also alludes to the possibility that the Department of Interior might encourage the tribe to seek property in Kansas because the state was the last area the tribe had its own reservation, which was taken by the government shortly after the Civil War.

"In the event that the Department of the Interior advises the tribe that a fee-to-trust application in the greater Kansas City area of the state of Kansas is preferred and will be processed much more efficiently and expeditiously than a fee-to-trust application in the state of Ohio, the developer and the tribe each agree to jointly pursue a casino in the greater Kansas City area of the state of Kansas," the development agreement says.

Attempts to reach a spokeswoman within the Department of the Interior — which includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs — to confirm the status of settlement negotiations were not successful.

River Trails LLC is suing both the tribe and the Delaware Enterprise Authority over an alleged breach of contract. The development group contends that the tribe in November declined to enter into an agreement that would allow River Trails to lease gaming machines to a Delaware casino. River Trails also alleges that the tribe has been "slow playing" the Kansas project by refusing to "consider appropriate sites in Kansas."

River Trails is seeking in excess of $2.6 million from the tribe. River Trails had been paying the tribe at least $25,000 per month since the beginning of the original development agreement for the rights to develop a casino for the tribe.

The Delaware tribe has not yet filed with the court an answer to the allegations made by River Trails.


Steve Jacob 4 years, 10 months ago

Casino open by the end of 2014. It might be a trailer until something better can be made.

Frank A Janzen 4 years, 10 months ago

"...encourage the tribe to seek property in Kansas because the state was the last area the tribe had its own reservation, which was taken by the government shortly after the Civil War." GIVE THEM BACK THE LAND STOLEN BY THE US GOVERNMENT!!! for God's sake!!!

gatekeeper 4 years, 10 months ago

To correct the story, the land wasn't just taken by the govt. The Delaware trasferred (SOLD) part of the reservation land. The land they bought and want to turn into a casino was sold to three men in the 1860's by the chief of the Turtle Band of the Delaware tribe. They're weren't the original tribe and the govt should give them land in their original territory. They liked the cash the white man would give them and gave up the rights to part of this reservation land.

"In 1860, in a treaty between the United States and the Delaware Indians, the Government granted to Sarcoxie, chief of the Turtle Band, approximately 320 acres which included a greater part of North Lawrence. A year later, all of this land was transferred by Sarcoxie and his wife to three early settlers, Charles Robinson, Robert Stevens, and Wm. A. Simpson. Shortly afterwards, the tract was broken up by the transfer of a strip of land to the Eastern Division of the Kansas Pacific Railroad Company and other smaller pieces to settlers who moved to the community. In the following two years, quite a bit of building went on in North Lawrence, with churches, houses, schools, a post office, a newspaper, a jail, stores, and a hotel called "Crandall House."

"Chief Sarcoxie and his family lived on the hill north of the Lawson station at Mud Creek. His two daughters attended the old Woodlawn School at North Fourth and Perry Streets. The site of his home was almost identical with the present location of the house now standing."

LawrenceTownie 4 years, 10 months ago

I agree with you Frankfussman. I used to work with a native American man and I remember the "joke" he told me: What did native Americans call this land in the 1800's before settlement? Answer: MINE. I have never forgotten that answer. Rings true today too. A tribe with no land in this great country of ours? Shameful.

Notice in that article of Sarcoxie and his wife selling off North Lawrence that the first name listed is our very own Kansas Gov. Robinson. Leave it up to a politician &/or a developer to know where and when to purchase land that is going to be "up and coming", even in the olden days. Probably bought it cheap from the Chief and sold high to the railroads. The railroads probably had the Kansas Government in their pockets all along. Probably told the Chief it was no good at all for anything and he fell for it.

davidmcg 4 years, 10 months ago

I believe their tribal land was located ne of Perry Lake in the Oskaloosa/McLouth area, north of 94TH from Ferguson Road East to just over the Leavenworth/Jefferson County line. When they forced them to walk to Oklahoma, one of the routes went through what is now Eudora and their is a cemetary in their name on the north side of the Kansas River at Leavenworth County Road. I live on property that was once part of that tribal land.

Matt Schwartz 4 years, 10 months ago

Is that geographically possible? Thanks, t.a.

bucky 4 years, 10 months ago

Delaware land originally extended from Kaw River bend north to about oskaloosa, east to bonner .west of kaw was also

LawrenceTownie 4 years, 10 months ago

I think you are right Bucky. I remember seeing my parents home abstract, it was off of 24/40 highway between Lawrence and Tonganoxie, it mentioned Delaware land deeded out.

smileydog 4 years, 10 months ago

A casino would only bring good and nice things to north Lawrence.

gatekeeper 4 years, 10 months ago

Would you like a casino in your backyard and all the crime it brings? This is a rural area. Not only N. Lawrence is fighting this, also the surrounding family farms.

windjammer 4 years, 10 months ago

No I would not want it in my back yard but am all for it in yours. I go to Kansas Speedway five or six times per year and don't see any crime or feel threatened when I go to Hollywood casino. Some of the surroundig family farms are not fighting it at least the Pine family was not concerend.

Jeanette Kekahbah 4 years, 10 months ago

have seen no crime around any of the dozen or so tribal casinos i've visited in ks, ca & mi. this isn't like atlantic city popping up here. drive up to mayetta, horton or white cloud and see for yourself. i'm a family & family farm girl and i'd be totally cool with a tribal casino butted right up to my property line.

Jeanette Kekahbah 4 years, 10 months ago

was all KANZA land first...just a reminder. glad the Delaware are returning. would love to see the Kanza regain some property up around here too.

Mike Ford 4 years, 10 months ago

USC 25, 2719 a (1) B part II explains this gaming stuff. the cemetery north of Eudora is a cemetery for Citizen Delaware who didn't go to Indian Territory in 1867. The area to the west and north of the cemetery is the Falleaf area named after Captain Falleaf who lead a Delaware military regiment during the US Civil War. Tribes have sovereign immunity remember.

Phoghorn 4 years, 10 months ago

Interesting piece of history. Thanks for sharing.

Hudson Luce 4 years, 10 months ago

details, details:

"Some of the attorneys involved in the Delaware deal - Tulsa attorney Vicki Sousa and Luis Figueredo of Palmetto Bay, Fla. - are also associated with the court-battled casino in Broken Arrow proposed by the Kialegee Tribal Town and developers from Florida and Chicago. River Trails' lawsuit, which is filed in U.S. District Court in Tulsa, alleges that a May 2010 development agreement gave River Trails exclusive authority to develop a casino on the tribe's former lands in Ohio that would be placed in trust. It was signed by then-Chief Jerry Douglas, DEA president Wayne Stull, and River Trails managing member Rudy Gerbus of Ohio. The tribe is considered to be landless and cannot place any land into trust within 14 counties in Oklahoma because of a past agreement with the Cherokee Nation, records show."

I wonder if any of the two big local developers are going to get in on this deal - if they do, it's pretty much a done deal - and if they don't, it's toast.

And, while we're at it, since all of the land in Lawrence was part of an Indian reservation, the land under part of a Lawrence hotel - or on the lot - could be placed into trust by a tribe, and the tribe could get a gaming compact with the State...

Jeanette Kekahbah 4 years, 10 months ago

no not all the land in lawrence was part of a reservation. all of lawrence was once part of Kanza land as was approximately 2/3 of the entire state. that pre-dates the era of reservations in kansas.

Matt Schwartz 4 years, 10 months ago

before lawrence was lawrence, it belonged to the earth.

Jeanette Kekahbah 4 years, 10 months ago

was never Wyandotte Tribal land. but hey cool with me if any tribe buys any land/any place. betcha such transactions would be FAR more legitimate than the VAST majority (if not all) where non-natives acquired hundreds of thousands of acreage.

roadwarrior 4 years, 10 months ago

based on the quality of expansion slated for our area already - a casino is going to 'fit right in' here really soon.

Mike Ford 4 years, 10 months ago

Robert Robitaille was a Wyandotte Indian. When much of KCK stopped being reservation land in 1855 Mr. Robitialle was given a float or land elsewhere with the elsewhere being old west Lawrence. There were tribal members concerned with tribal affairs and tribal members concerned with income who acted as conduits for land transfer much to the disadvantage of their tribes. Abelard Guthrie and Joseph Parks were other examples of this with the Wyandotte and Shawnee tribes.

bearded_gnome 4 years, 10 months ago

Beerguy shoots and scores!

*oneeye, salvage yards are much friendly neighbors than casinos. they don't attract crime, break up families, lead to child neglect, etc.

Armored_One 4 years, 10 months ago

If casinos are guilty for causing such a laundry list of horrible things, then we should go ahead and shut down liquor stores, since they cause alcohol addiction, and we all know the issues that go with alcohol addiction.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.