KINGS MOUNTAIN, N.C. – The Catawba Nation today voiced its thanks and appreciation of the U.S. House of Representatives for its overwhelming support of the Catawba Indian Nation Lands Act (H.R. 8255). The House on Monday evening voted, 361-55, in favor of the bill.
“On behalf of all Catawba citizens, I want to thank the U.S. House of Representatives for passage of this bill, the Catawba Indian Nation Lands Act, which reaffirms the Interior Department’s action recognizing the Catawba Nation’s historical and ancestral ties to North Carolina,” Catawba Nation Chief Bill Harris said. “We are especially grateful to the bill’s bipartisan sponsors: Reps. James Clyburn, Alma Adams, William Timmons, David Price, Joe Wilson and G.K. Butterfield.”
The Interior Department had completed a thorough, years-long review prior to its March 2020 action taking 17 acres of land into trust status in Cleveland County for the Catawba Nation. It confirmed that the Catawba Nation’s aboriginal lands extend to six North Carolina counties and farther north in the Piedmont of North Carolina, as evidenced by names such as Catawba County and Catawba College. The six counties in North Carolina are part of the Catawba’s service area as defined by Congress in 1993.
“These are the lands of not just our ancestors, but also the hundreds of Catawba citizens residing there today,” Harris said. “This bipartisan legislation is an important step toward rectifying historic injustice perpetrated against the Catawba Nation.”
.In the past, Congress has supported similar bipartisan legislation for other tribes. The act also clarifies that the Catawba Nation is subject to the well-established rules and regulations of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act on their modern and ancestral lands in the State of North Carolina.
Like many other instances reflecting current effects of historical inequities, the Catawba Nation experiences high unemployment and poverty rates, and many of its citizens rely upon the federal and state governments for basic social services. The enactment of this legislation will therefore help the Catawba secure economic self-sufficiency as originally envisioned by Congress in passing the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988.
“We look forward to working with members of the U.S. Senate and our sponsors – Sens. Richard Burr, Thom Tillis and Lindsey Graham – for passage in the Senate.”
The Interior Department’s action was also reaffirmed in April by a ruling from the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia in rejecting a lawsuit filed by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in 2020.
The Catawba also have a compact with the State of North Carolina, which in March was approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, to share revenues from the Catawba Two Kings Casino in Kings Mountain, a sustainable economic engine and jobs creator for residents of Cleveland County.
The Catawba Two Kings Casino pre-launch facility opened with 500 gaming machines on July 1 with widespread community support. Its immediate success in the summer prompted the Catawba to begin site work in September on an expansion of the facility to add 500 gaming machines, with its opening anticipated by year’s end. The Catawba are simultaneously continuing planning for the permanent casino resort project.