The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver announced on Friday, Nov. 8, that it had denied Cherokee Nation’s petition to rehear a Sept. 5 decision by the court related to land in trust.
The decision had removed an injunction filed by the Cherokee Nation to prohibit the federal government's taking land in trust for the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians.
“This ruling solidifies our history and is another historical moment for the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians; the ruling allows the federal government to take land in trust for Keetoowahs,” said UKB Chief Joe Bunch. “This will springboard our services by allowing us to apply for grants that required a land in trust base. This is truly a great day for all three federally recognized Cherokee tribes.”
In 2000, the United Keetoowah Band purchased 76 acres of land in Tahlequah. The tribe has developed the property for several uses, including cultural grounds, an elder center, a daycare, a museum, and community offices.
The UKB submitted its application to the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs in 2004 to put the tract of land into trust. This was approved by the BIA in 2011.
While the Cherokee Nation could choose to appeal one last time to the Supreme Court, the UKB will continue to move forward with land in trust on the 76-acre tract they call “owenvsv,” or “home,” according to Brittney Bennett, media director.
“The ability of the secretary of the interior to take land into trust for the Keetoowahs means we will forever have land to use as we see fit, as well as opens the door to additional federal funding for our members,” said Bennett. “This case also has other implications, including clearing the way for our other properties to eventually be taken into trust, such as the old casino property.”