PCI: Court ruling has no effect
Published 7:59 am Monday, March 16, 2009
By By MaryClaire Foster
special to the standard
Officials with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians do not believe that a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding land held in trust for Indian tribes will affect the tribe’s land near Atmore.
The Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling in the case of Carcieri v. Salazar limits the federal government’s authority to hold land in trust for Indian tribes that were federally recognized after the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act. The case involved the Narragansett Indian Tribe in Rhode Island over a parcel of land put into trust in 1991.
But according to Poarch Band of Creek Indians Governmental Relations Advisor Robert McGhee, the ruling does not affect the Tribe.
The Department of the Interior issued a statement expressing U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar’s displeasure with the federal ruling.
McGhee said the ruling was based on a technicality in the wording of the law.
McGhee said Congress is now looking into amending the law to correct it.
Meanwhile, the state Legislature has introduced a bill to propose a constitutional amendment that would control electronic gaming facilities that operate under county amendments in the state and would create a state gaming commission.
As for the state bill, McGhee said the bill would not apply to the Tribe, because it deals with the legalization of Class II gaming, which the Tribe already has.
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians became federally recognized on Aug. 11, 1984, and in November of that same year 231.54 acres of land were taken into trust. In April 1985, 229.54 acres were declared a reservation. The tribe is the only federally recognized tribe in the state.