Tahlequah Daily Press

August 29, 2013

UKB to negotiate with CN


TAHLEQUAH — The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians has agreed to enter 11th-hour negotiations with the Cherokee Nation to keep the UKB Casino open.

A spokesman for the tribe told the Daily Press late Wednesday that the UKB council had approved the measure during an emergency meeting Tuesday night.

The UKB does not have a Freedom of Information Act, and its meetings are not open to the public or the media. Prior to a past council meeting, the UKB escorted a Daily Press reporter from the premises and seized her camera.

UKB Assistant Chief Charles Locust confirmed late Wednesday to a metro newspaper that his tribe had selected the first option, which would be to sign over the 2.5 acres of land upon which the casino now sits to the Cherokees.

The CN will then lease it back to the UKB.

Locust declined to give any additional information at this time, and both tribes will have to act quickly to avoid the midnight Friday closure deadline.

Under the proposed agreement, the CN would place the land into trust, and the 99-year lease would be automatically renewed. If successful, the UKB will save about 150 casino jobs, as well as protecting the paychecks of about 70 governmental employees.

Other employees were asked for comment, but declined.

Messages were left for Cherokee Nation officials after learning the UKB Council had approved the measure, but the calls were unreturned by press time.