WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and U.S. Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK-01) today sent a letter to Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk and National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) Chairwoman Tracie Stevens questioning whether the Kialegee Tribal Town acquired approval on a lease agreement from the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) before they started building on the proposed tribal land in Broken Arrow, Okla.
Federal law is very clear that all leases on restricted lands must be approved. Generally, it is believed that there are two options to secure this approval in Oklahoma. The first being from a state district court, which recently denied the application from the Kialegee Tribal Town. The other alternative is through a regulated process at the DOI. The lease must be approved before it is considered valid.
In the letter, Inhofe and Sullivan questioned the Kialegee Tribal Town’s willingness to comply with federal laws, stating: “There are many legitimate concerns about the legality of the casino project being pursued by the Kialegee Tribal Town. Many residents and concerned citizens have reached out to our offices to express their displeasure with the proposal. We share their frustration that the Kialegee Tribal Town seems unwilling to comply with or entertain the federal laws governing gaming and the leasing of restricted lands.”
Their concerns on the legality of the casino lease prompted Inhofe and Sullivan to write Echo Hawk and Stevens seeking answers about the lease, such as: Has the lease agreement between Ms. Capps, Ms. Giles, and the Kialegee Tribal Town been submitted to your office for approval? Have you concluded, and are you confident, that only lawful activities will be conducted on this land under the terms of the lease? If the lease has not been approved by the Secretary of Interior and is invalid, will you consider the unauthorized possession as trespass, in accordance with standing regulations? If the lease has not been approved, and a trespassing violation is occurring, what steps will you take to “recover possession” of the land “from [the] trespassers operating without a lease?”
Inhofe and Sullivan request to receive a response by Fri., Feb. 3, 2012.