Catawba Indian Nation Lands Act Would Reaffirm Land Taken Into Trust by DOI

Artist’s rendering of the proposed Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort in North Carolina

The Catawba Indian Nation Lands Act (H.R. 8255) was introduced Tuesday to the U.S. House of Representatives to reaffirm land-trust decisions taken by the Interior Department in March. 

The DOI took 17 acres of land into trust status in Cleveland County, North Carolina, for the Catawba Nation — a decision that followed years-long review. 

READ MORE: DOI Grants Catawba Indian Nation Land in Trust for Casino in North Carolina 

The Catawba Nation’s aboriginal lands extend to six North Carolina counties and farther north in the Piedmont of North Carolina, as evidenced by names such as Catawba County and Catawba College. “The newly introduced legislation demonstrates the ongoing support from members of Congress in righting historical wrongs against the Catawba people,” said Chief Bill Harris of the Catawba Nation.

“We are pleased that this legislation will reaffirm the Interior Department’s action recognizing the Catawba Nation’s historical and ancestral ties to the lands in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. These are the lands of not just our ancestors, but also the hundreds of Catawba citizens that reside there today,” Harris said.

Harris noted that it is not unusual for Congress to reaffirm land-trust decisions by the Interior Department. The “Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation Act” from 2014 and the “Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Land Affirmation Act” from 2019 are recent examples of such an action.

Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort

The Catawba Nation recently broke ground on a major economic development project, Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort, on the land that was taken into trust in Kings Mountain. The project is expected to create 4,000 permanent jobs at full buildout and thousands of construction jobs in the region.

The Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort draws its name from Catawba Chief King Hagler. During his leadership in the mid-1700s, he allied his nation with the American colonists who revolted against the British at the time of the Revolutionary War. “Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort celebrates our rich history and hopeful future in our ancestral lands in North Carolina – where our people were established hundreds of years ago, as the names Catawba River, Catawba County and Catawba College suggest,” Chief Bill Harris said on August 31st.

The new bipartisan bill would reaffirm the Administration’s determination that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act applies to the Catawba Nation and its lands located in North Carolina, Harris said. This provision is critical to ensuring the Catawba Nation’s gaming will be subject to an agreement that provides North Carolina with a role in the regulation of the facility.

Congressman G.K. Butterfield (North Carolina) was joined in introducing the bipartisan bill by Congressman Jim Clyburn (South Carolina), Congressman William Timmons (South Carolina), Congressman Dan Bishop (North Carolina), Congressman Joe Cunningham (South Carolina), Congresswoman Alma Adams (North Carolina), Congressman David Price (North Carolina) and Congressman Joe Wilson (South Carolina).

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