The Catawba Indian Nation has got approval from the federal government to construct and operate a casino and resort on land over the border in North Carolina.
The U.S. Department of the Interior cleared the American Indian tribe’s request to use 16 acres of land near Interstate 85 in Kings Mountain. The location is about 35 miles northwest of the Catawba reservation in upstate South Carolina.
The $273 million investment in the entertainment complex could generate more than 1600 construction jobs and create more than 3000 direct and indirect jobs once built.
The tribe “is very thankful for the department’s decision to take this land into trust, enabling us to achieve the promise of self-determination though economic development,” tribal Chief Bill Harris said.
Catawba leaders claim historical and legal ownership of the land. But the Eastern Band of Cherokee in North Carolina, with two casinos located in the state’s mountains, disagree and say the Catawba should stay in their own state.
“The federal government has no right or authority to create a new reservation for the Catawba Nation across state lines, into Cherokee historical territory, just to build a casino,” Chief Richard Sneed said.
The Interior Department’s approval came as North Carolina Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced a bill last year would have directed the agency to authorise gambling on the land.
Burr called the decision “the right call.”
“Congress always intended for the Catawba tribe to be able to take land into trust in North Carolina, where they have deep, historic ties. I hope this decision will finally allow the Catawbas to move closer toward their goal of creating jobs and economic development in Kings Mountain with state and local support,” Burr said in a statement.
Bill Harris said that the casino would be paid for by unidentified investors. It would be run by Delaware North, which manages sports and entertainment venues in addition to casinos.
“It’s a righting of a wrong. We have now regained what once belonged to us,” Harris said.