Originally posted December 16, 2014 on AL.com
The State of Alabama is currently in court arguing that the Poarch Band of Creek Indians should not be allowed to operate electronic gambling machines on their land. A key component to that lawsuit is the question if the land used by the Poarch Creek qualifies for federal recognition.
The state says no, contending the Poarch Creek were not federally recognized until the 1980s, and previous cases ruled the U.S. could not take land and hold it in trust for tribes outside those recognized by a 1934 law.
The Poarch Creek maintains as a federally recognized tribe, it is free to operate casinos on its own land. The tribe operates gaming houses in Atmore, Montgomery and Wetumpka. PCI Gaming had net earnings of $322 million in 2012, according to the tribe’s annual report.
The gaming industry is one thing but now, with the Department of Justice ruling tribes will be able to grow and sell marijuana on their own lands, the issue of Poarch Creek property could become even more critical.
Lawsuits and marijuana
“The validity of the Poarch Creeks’ claim to federal trust lands in Alabama beyond the jurisdiction of state law enforcement is currently being challenged in at least two federal lawsuits, one of which was brought on behalf of the State by Attorney General Luther Strange,” Native American law expert and former Alabama State Senator Bryan Taylor said.
“If the Poarch Creek Indians win that case, the Justice Department’s decision authorizing marijuana on Indian lands will apply to the Poarch Creek Indians.”