Poarch resumes work in Wetumpka

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Wind Creek Wetumpka project is back in the works for PCI.

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians has resumed its development plans for a hotel and casino on land it owns in Wetumpka.

The tribe had suspended construction in a “show of good faith,” PCI members said in the statement, to meet with members of the Muscogee Nation over concerns about the project.

Poarch officials said they made the decision to resume construction after meeting in Oklahoma this week with elected leaders of the Muscogee Creek Nation and traditional leaders of Hickory Ground Town (a traditional Indian town within the Muscogee Nation).

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“We have been extremely careful to plan a development that is culturally sensitive while ensuring the economic well-being of our Tribal members, our community and our state,” Tribal Council Member Arthur Mothershed said in a statement. “It is a balanced, reasonable approach for using land that we own, which has been met with increased opposition from some in Oklahoma.

Mothershed said much of the opposition from the Muscogee Nation has come due to the fact that Native American remains have bee excavated on the site.

“Now, we are being faced with demands to remove ancestral remains that have already been reinterred,” Mothershed said. “We can ensure that no more remains will be excavated. It has been almost eight years since any remains have been unearthed.

Mothershed went on in the statement to explain the remains were reinterred in a culturally sensitive manner and said moving them once again would be inappropriate.

“We cannot change the fact that remains were found and removed. Those remains are now reinterred and we cannot support disturbing those remains again.”

In the statement, PCI members said discussion between the two tribes over the use of the land began in 2006; however PCI officials stressed that, as a recognized, sovereign nation the Poarch Creeks are under no legal obligation to negotiate with any other government about the use of its own land.

PCI Chairman Buford Rolin said he was upset the tribes seem to have come to an impasse.

“We are indeed saddened by the outcome of this recent trip to Oklahoma made by representatives of our Tribal Council,” Rolin said. “Since 2006, we have reached out to the Muscogee Nation with the hope that they would be open to understanding the facts about the 21st century conditions of what was once Hickory Ground Town and would recognize that our development in Wetumpka does not alter that. Unfortunately we have reached an impasse.”

Rolin went on to say the development of the land held sacred by the Muscogee Nation is being done with the utmost sensitivity and care.
“We respect the past, acknowledge the present, and recognize the challenges of the future,” Rolin said. “This development is a reasonable approach to land use; and no one cares more about the sanctity of our land and the well-being of our people and our neighbors than we do.”
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians is the only federally recognized Indian tribe in Alabama. Its tribal members have lived continuously in the region for centuries, specifically near present day Atmore, since the early 1800s.

Plans to open Wind Creek Wetumpka are scheduled for late fall 2013.