Broken Arrow casino controversy returns for 2nd day in federal court

TULSA - The Kialegee tribe and the state of Oklahoma were back in federal court Thursday, a day after attorneys presented their opening statements in the lawsuit involving the controversial Broken Arrow casino.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is suing the Kialegee Tribal Town to stop construction of the Red Clay Casino, located at 111th and 129th East Avenue.

Pruitt says the new Red Clay Casino violates the State Gaming Compact and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, but the tribe's attorneys say the injunction is illegal, narrowly tailored and stops all development on the property.

The State's final four witnesses testified, including Rob Martinek, co-founder of Broken Arrow Citizens Against Neighborhood Gaming. The group obtained more than 10,000 signatures in opposition to the casino. Tribe lawyer Dennis Whittlesley told the judge the petition was insignificant in a city of 100,000.

Whittlesley then requested -- and was denied -- a mistrial before calling on Pruitt to testify. The Kialegees claim Pruitt selectively prosecuted the tribe as a citizen of BA. Pruitt says the allegations are false.

The judge did not allow the AG to take the stand, forcing the tribe to call on the land developer. He said he met with BA city officials in Feb. 2011 and there were no objections. He didn't inform the public because he was told that wouldn't be a good idea. The developer says the National Indian Gaming Commission had 120 days to object to the casino. They said a conclusion wasn't reached, therefore he continued the project.

The land in question is allotted to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, of which the Kialegee is a branch, according to the tribe's attorneys; however, the Kialegee became an independent tribe in 1941 and its constitution does not address land sharing.

The state says gaming cannot occur on Indian land not belonging to the exercising tribe.

It also maintains the Bureau of Indian Affairs hasn't approved the lease.

The state's first witness, a Native American history professor, was called Wednesday. 

Professor Gary Anderson said the Kialegee tribe is a band, not a tribe; therefore, they don't have the same rights.

But attorneys for the Kialegees say the state recognizes them as a tribe and gave them a gaming compact last summer.

Pruitt says the final decision will set precedent for thousands of other Indian allotments in Oklahoma.

The hearing is expected to last through Friday.

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