Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Quapaw leader talks to Little Rock Board about land purchase

Posted By on Tue, Apr 14, 2015 at 4:54 PM

click to enlarge QUAPAW LEADER: John Berrey talked about Pulaski County land purchase today at City Board meeting.
  • QUAPAW LEADER: John Berrey talked about Pulaski County land purchase today at City Board meeting.
John Berrey, chairman of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma, made an unscheduled appearance before the Little Rock City Board this afternoon to talk about the tribe's recent purchase of 160 acres near the Little Rock Port and its application to make it trust land, and thus exempt from local government taxation and control.

He got questioning, particularly from Directors Lance Hines and Dean Kumpuris, about what Kumpuris characterized as community "fears" that the Quapaw might eventually want to develop a casino there, such as it operates in Oklahoma.

Berrey has said preservation and continued study of ancestral lands is the group's first interest. But he also resisted efforts that seemed to aim to pin him down in some agreement not to use the lands in ways in which these city directors, at least, wouldn't approve. This isn't a "treaty," Berrey responded.

The subject will be discussed, too, before the Little Rock Port Authority Thursday.

I have to wonder where city directors get off presuming that Pulaski County residents are unilaterally opposed to the jobs and tax revenue (Indian casinos always work out such agreements) that come with casino developments. I have to wonder why city directors seem to be serving the interest of protection of the gambling monopoly enjoyed in Little Rock by Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs and Southland Gaming in West Memphis. Of course a major and influential beneficiary of Oaklawn is lodged in Little Rock, the Friday Law Firm.

Once in trust, Indians generally are allowed the same operating privileges extended to others in a state, though there is a long and arduous process to reach a gambling permit.

Berrey made a reference to history militating against making agreements on use of Indian land with agencies of government. No kidding.

Directors Doris Wright and Ken Richardson also had questions (Wright about farming the land, Richardson about protecting the slave cemetery that exists atop a prehistoric mound on the site); they, like Hines, Kumpuris and the mayor, kept addressing Berrey as "chief." He's chairman of his tribe. He wore no feathers to the board meeting.

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