Poarch Creek Indians' Wetumpka Casino Expansion Challenged

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By Tamika Bickham

It was just one month ago that the Poarch Creek Indians announced a huge expansion of their Wetumpka property, Wind Creek Casino. But there could be some roadblocks along the way because an Oklahoma tribe wants to stop the new development.

Ground has been broken. It is the first signs of new life moving in at Wetumpka's Wind Creek Casino.

"At this point, there's 600 employees in this operation. We are told there are going to be 600 more," said Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis.

According to Willis, to make way for the 90,000 square foot gaming room, 20-story hotel, and parking deck five times the size of the current one, the Poarch Creek Indians exumed bodies buried on the land and put them back in the ground, but in a smaller space.

Despite that, many area residents are in support of the economic progress.

"I thought it would probably be great for the area, a lot of money coming in. I wouldn't mind a nice restaurant or something like that," said Elmore County resident, Jim Watson.

"I think it will be great for the community. I think it will be really great to expand the business," said Wetumpka resident, Jerrel Ivey.

But the Muscogee Nation wants it stopped. They are an Indian tribe in Oklahoma with ties to the land, and say the exumed bodies are those of their ancestors and believe the burial grounds should be restored, and not used for Poarch Creeks' expansion.

The treasurer for the Poarch Creeks told the Birmingham News that they have worked with the Muscogee tribe on this project. So will the conflict affect the development?

"You don't count your chickens before they hatch. You wait to see what you have," said Willis.

But he says this is something that the Poarch Creek Indians and the Muscogee tribe will work through. He says he will continue to support their efforts.

"Whatever happens, whatever develops out of this, we will work alongside our friends that are here and be that good partner that we can be," said Willis.

What happens next is unclear.

The Poarch Creek Indians and the Muscogee Nation did not respond to multiple requests made for comment.




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