WETUMKA, Okla. - For the first time since crews began to move dirt on a casino site in Broken Arrow, the town king of the Kialegee tribe is speaking out.
The tribal town invited the media to its headquarters in Wetumka on Friday.
Mekko, or Town King Tiger Hobia says the tribe has filed all proper paperwork for the casino. He says the Kialegee tribe shares jurisdiction with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
The Kialegee tribe, made up of about 400 members, sees opportunity knocking with the construction of the Red Clay Casino.
"We've had our struggles, and we're still struggling to make ends meet," Town King Tiger Hobia said.
But thousands of Broken Arrow residents and dozens of lawmakers are against the casino plans. Despite that, Town King Hobia says the casino is moving forward.
2News asked whether the tribe has gone through the proper channels as far as the casino is concerned.
"Yes, I'm kept pretty well-informed on how things are going," Hobia said.
Attorney Vicki Sousa represents the tribe.
"We had no idea the homeowners-- that there would be this kind of opposition," she said. "Hindsight is 20/20, I wish we could've done it, we should've done it a different way."
Opponents question just who has jurisdiction over the land. It's owned by two Muscogee (Creek) sisters, who are leasing it out to developers.
Town King Hobia says the tribe doesn't own any land independently. But since the Kialegee tribe originated from the Creek Confederacy, he says they share jurisdiction.
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is opposed to the plans.
"We have just as much jurisdictional right to that property as any other tribal town," Sousa said.
The tribe says it's been working on starting a casino for years. 2News asked if the tribe started the casino process on its own, or if someone else came to them with the idea.
"Someone else did. This is a restricted area, and someone else happened to," Hobia said.
Tribal members we spoke with support the plans.
"If we're going to put this up, and they don't like it, there's nothing we can do about it. Just as long as they're abiding by the law. And we're making sure they're abiding by the law," said Rhonda Ellig.
Ellig says the tribe doesn't want to feed the fire.
"If it happens, it happens. If it don't, it don't," she said.
Just last week, U.S. Representative John Sullivan brought a petition signed by more than five thousand residents to the National Indian Gaming Commission in Washington D.C. The case is under federal review.
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