In one of its last acts of the Obama administration, the Department of the Interior is continuing its effort to fast-track a tribal casino in Guymon Oklahoma, more than 400 miles away from the headquarters of the Shawnee Tribe.
The Department of Interior is set to officially notify Governor Fallin of its intent to place the land into trust for gambling. Governor Fallin has one year to concur or voice her objection to this casino.
Former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, who in 2005 successfully authored amendatory legislation to help the Shawnee tribe had this to say about the recent actions: “As someone intimately involved in stopping the Shawnee Tribe’s previous attempt to build a casino in Oklahoma City, I want to make clear that I remain strongly opposed to any attempt by the tribe to build a casino anywhere in our state.
“The provision that the tribe is now exploiting was written to ensure cooperation between the Shawnee Tribe and neighboring tribes, specifically the Cherokee Nation, if the tribe’s activities impacted other Indian lands. It was never intended as a blank check for the tribe to go reservation shopping in unassigned lands. The Guymon proposal must be recognized as another illegitimate attempt to build in an area where it has no historic connection.”
The planned casino in the Panhandle had a rushed environmental process which many are concerned did not adequately address its impact on the Ogallala Aquifer. The city councils of every community in Texas County as well as numerous county officials have all voiced their opposition as have hundreds of local citizens.
Governing bodies of the Oklahoma communities of Goodwell, Guymon, Hooker, Keyes, Boise City and Texhoma, as well as that of Texhoma, Texas have formally voiced their opposition to having this land placed into trust. They have been joined by the current state senator, the past state senator, the past state representative, Texas County officeholders the sheriff, county assessor, county clerk, two county commissioners, and numerous other officeholders including school board members, judges and city councilors in opposing this unprecedented effort.
In 2008, as a member of Congress, Fallin was a vocal opponent of a similar effort by the Shawnee Tribe when they attempted to build a casino in Oklahoma City.
No tribe has ever had land placed into trust in an area even remotely close to this distance from their current location, Coburn said. Based in Miami, Oklahoma, the Shawnee Tribe is actually closer to Des Moines, Omaha, Memphis, Dallas and Tupelo, Mississippi than they are to Guymon in the Oklahoma Panhandle. The tribe has no historical ties to this land.”