KATV Ch. 7’s Marine Glisovic reports:
A Pulaski County judge is asking the Bureau of Indian Affairs to reject a request from the Quapaw Tribe.
The Tribe submitted an application asking that 160 acres of land they own be given Federal Trust status.
The Quapaw Tribe purchased the land adjacent to the Little Rock Port Authority’s industrial park a couple of years ago, but in December they submitted this latest request.
Local and state officials have expressed concerns that it could allow for a casino to be built, bypassing Arkansas state laws.
After finding graves dating back hundreds of years, the Quapaw Tribe purchased the 160 acres.
“That’s not our plan, it’s not a current plan, it’s not a short-term or long-term plan for us to build a casino…in fact that wouldn’t be compatible for what is important to us about that land,” said Quapaw Tribe Spokesman Sean Harrison.
Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde sent a letter last week asking the Bureau of Indian Affairs to reject the Quapaw Tribe’s request; however, he said this is not about casino concerns.
“Their application is confusing and contradictory, it makes statements that the purpose for the application and the trust is to preserve the artifacts and protect these burial areas, and then later on it says that the purpose is for agricultural use,” added Hyde.
Hyde went on to say that he wants the tribe to be part of the community under local and state jurisdiction rather than apart from the community.
Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, who has expressed concerns in the past, has a May 22 deadline to send his response to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The Little Rock Port Authority’s Executive Director, Bryan Day, released this statement to Channel 7:
“The Little Rock Port Authority Board of Directors unanimously adopted a resolution supporting appropriate land use and development on properties adjacent to and within the Little Rock Port Industrial Park.
“The resolution was brought forward at a time when the Little Rock Port Authority is planning to acquire additional lands for future growth and expansion. The resolution also will be submitted as a part of the public comment regarding the Quapaw Tribe’s application to place land adjacent to the Port into Federal Trust.
“An additional element of the resolution is to clarify the Little Rock Port Authority Board’s intent to protect and preserve any cultural or archeological artifacts that may be found on future land purchases.
“The Little Rock Port Authority Board has always supported prospects that want to develop their lands in a manner that is consistent with our mission of creating jobs and economic growth. This resolution establishes a framework for the future and sets the appropriate parameters for the Port as we move forward with our expansion.
“If the Bureau of Indian Affairs approves the Tribe’s application to place the land in Trust, the Little Rock Port Authority will work closely with the Tribe in an attempt to find ways that the land can be used in a manner consistent with an industrial park and in a way that is mutually beneficial to both parties.”
Click here to read Judge Hyde’s response to the Bureau of Indian Affairs or to leave a comment.