The Muscogee (Creek) Nation has filed a federal lawsuit to stop the construction on the planned expansion of Creek Casino in Wetumpka.
The lawsuit states that the Poarch Band of Creek Indians acquired "Hickory Ground" under the false pretense of preservation. The release states that Hickory Ground, the site for the proposed expansion, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places because it was the last capital of the Creek Nation before its removal to Oklahoma.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court today against Poarch Band and its officials, construction contractors Flintco, LLC and Martin Construction, Inc., Auburn University and the U.S. Department of Interior.
In a statement to WSFA 12 News the Poarch Band of Creek Indians said, "While we respect the Muscogee Tribe's rights as a sovereign Indian nation we cannot agree with the Muscogee's efforts to control the use of our land. We believe that this action will be found to be without merit."
The lawsuit states that the Poarch Band promised to protect the archaeological remains at Hickory Ground. The Muscogee Nation says that in excavating the ground for construction, the Poarch Band removed and relocated 57 sets of human remains, with the help of Auburn University, in violation of a preservation covenant.
The document states that the ceremonial and burial ground should be protected under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act and that the U.S. Interior Department failed in its duty to protect the ground from excavation.
The lawsuit seeks preservation of Hickory Ground, and does not seek monetary damages.
"From the beginning, it has been our stance that the remains should be put back where they were excavated," said Mekko George Thompson, who has served as a traditional Muscogee Chief of the Hickory Ground Tribal Town for 42 years. "The ceremonial ground is sacred, so it is not a proper place for a casino."
WSFA 12 News reached out to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians for comment.
"While we respect the Muscogee Tribe's rights as a sovereign Indian nation we cannot agree with the Muscogee's efforts to control the use of our land," said a representative of the tribe. "We believe that this action will be found to be without merit."
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