Four congressmen fight Quapaw tribe's land request | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Four congressmen fight Quapaw tribe's land request

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2015 at 9:19 AM

White man still knows what's best for Indians. Four members of the Arkansas congressional delegation — Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman and Reps. French Hill and Bruce Westerman — have joined other local officials in laughable objections to the Quapaw tribe's proposal to put ancestral lands it purchased in Pulaski County in trust, which would give the tribe autonomy over its use. Gov. Asa Hutchinson and County Judge Barry Hyde also have objected.

The land, used primarily for farming, is surrounded by industrial uses near the Little Rock Port. In other words, under zoning law, any use of the land is permissible, even if noxious and/or dangerous. Which makes the congressmen's letter all the more laughable: 

The lawmakers wrote in their letters that Hutchinson and Hyde “feel such a designation would be a significant disruption to the safety of the surrounding community,” and they “are in the best position to determine the impacts, both positive and negative, granting such an application would have.”

The letter also cites the 300 miles between the land and the Quapaw's headquarters in Oklahoma, as if these poor unsophisticated Indians don't have the expertise of, say, a Walmart or a Dillard's or a Tyson Foods or a J.B. Hunt to competently manage far-flung property. No, better to let Arkansas do that. Our record on treatment of Indians being so good and all.

I still will believe that all this has been fomented by Arkansas casino owners, particularly the Missouri family that owns Oaklawn Park (speaking of enterprises more than 300 miles from headquarters), who fear the Quapaws might build a hotel, restaurant, service businesses and casino on the land, as they've done in Oklahoma. The tribe says it has no such plans currently. But, of course, land in trust would give them a step — if only a step — up in that direction, though it's a long and difficult road. The white men with the duopoly casino franchise in Arkansas want to ironclad assurances that they'll have no competition.

Great White Father knows best. Credit to Reps. Steve Womack and Rick Crawford, for once, for not joining the party.

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