TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - While the future of a Tahlequah casino is still very much undecided, the fate of its near 150 workers just became more clear.
The Cherokee Nation extended employment Thursday to the current staff of Keetoowah Cherokee Casino, which is set to close by midnight Friday unless an agreement between the Cherokees and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees is reached.
“Employees of the Keetoowah Cherokee Casino are innocent bystanders in this two decades long legal battle,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said Thursday. “While we may be different Cherokee tribes, we come from one fire. Welcoming our Keetoowah brothers and sisters with open arms is simply the right thing to do.”
Spokespersons from both tribes confirm that the two sides are still working on an agreement.
The casino came under scrutiny after a judge ruled the casino had been operating on land that was never placed into federal trust.
The Cherokee Nation had made two offers to the Keetoowahs which would've allow them to keep the casino open. Under one proposal, the Keetoowahs would've been forced to place the land into trust, on behalf of the Cherokees, and then sign a 99-year-lease.
The second proposal would've allowed for the Keetoowahs to move the casino to land south of Tahlequah.
Three employment registration meetings have been scheduled for the displaced employees. The meetings will be held Tuesday Sept. 3 from 10 a.m. to noon, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. All meetings will be at the Webb Building on the Northeastern State University campus at 610 N. Grand Avenue, Tahlequah, OK.
Interested workers only need to attend one of the meetings. Identification and proof of UKB employment will be required.
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