WASHINGTON – Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn Monday issued a decision to acquire a 21-acre parcel of land in Kay County, Oklahoma, in trust for the Kaw Nation of Oklahoma (Nation) for gaming purposes.
The Tribe plans to construct and operate a small casino facility on the site, which also hosts the Tribe’s travel plaza that provides refueling to interstate traffic and will continue to operate on the site.
“The Kaw Project will provide significant opportunities for economic development for the Kaw Nation, and will provide a means for the Tribe to improve the governmental services it provides to its members,” Washburn said. “The acquisition of the site in trust is necessary to support these efforts.”
Kevin Washburn, Assistant Interior Secretary – Indian Affairs
The proposed site for the casino is located in Braman, Oklahoma, 29 miles from the Tribe’s headquarters. Currently, the Tribe operates two casinos in Oklahoma called the SouthWind Casino in Newkirk and SouhWind Casino in Kaw City.
Section 465 of the Indian Reorganization Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to acquire land in trust for Indian tribes. On May 17, 2013, Assistant Secretary Washburn issued a positive Secretarial Determination on the Nation’s proposed gaming facility pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act that found that a gaming facility on the site would be in the best interest of the Kaw Nation and its members and would not be detrimental to the surrounding community. On May 23, 2013, Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma concurred in this determination. In addition to the State, the Town of Braman, and Kay County strongly support the acquisition of the site into trust status.
In 1825, the Kaw Nation ceded over 18 million acres of land in Kansas. The Tribe was removed to Oklahoma in 1872 where it bought land for a reservation that was carved out of the existing Osage reservation. In the 1970s the Kaw reservation was flooded by the Army Corps of Engineers for the creation of the Kaw Dam and Reservoir on the Arkansas River. As a result, the Kaw Nation no longer has land on its former reservation. This fact distinguishes the Kaw Nation from other tribes in Oklahoma.
After its removal to Oklahoma, the Nation made its home in Kay County. The site is only 21 miles from the boundaries of the Tribe’s former reservation, and is near the Nation’s key governmental sites and population center at Newkirk. “The Kaw Nation has strong ties to the region,” Washburn said. “The Nation seeks to restore a tribal land base in a region it has historically inhabited.”