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Old 01-14-2004, 06:04 PM   #1
WolfTears
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Exclamation Stop the Wannabee Clans

Hold put on Native American ‘village’ plans

By Clay Carey
Hendersonville Editor

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A proposal that would allow a Native American “village” in Sumner County was put on hold by the county commission this week amid concerns that the project could lead to casino gambling here.

A contingency from the Yuma, Tenn.-based Cherokee Wolf Clan asked the county’s Legislative Committee Monday night to recognize the clan as a Native American group in Sumner County.

Clan spokesman Pooch Shields told commissioners the recognition would clear the way for the Native American group to develop a “village” featuring a Native American museum, a library, a trade school, a church and offices for administrative personnel.

Shields said the clan would also help needy people construct homes in the village.

“This is the kind of thing the Cherokee Wolf Clan does,” Shields told commissioners. He added that the village would not be exclusively for those of Native American descent.

“If a white person or a black person really needs help, we will help them,” he said.

Shields said the clan would seek private donations to fund the project. He said the group needs to be recognized by the county in order to do business here.

However, a number of county commissioners at Monday night’s meeting expressed concerns that the recognition might also clear the way for the clan to operate a casino in the county.

“This is a pretty conservative county,” District 4 Commissioner Anthony Holt told the Cherokee Wolf Clan representative. Holt then asked for Shields’ assurance that the group would not use the recognition “as a reason to put casino gambling or something like that” in Sumner County.

Shields said there are currently “no plans on the board” for a casino and noted his clan does not operate a casino.

However, he said he believed the clan’s council could vote to open a casino if it so desired and would not rule out that possibility.

“I can’t make any promises or decisions,” Shields told commissioners. “We have no plans right now for a casino.”

Concerns about the possibility of a casino opening and a desire for more information about the clan’s proposal prompted the Legislative Committee to defer the group’s request for recognition to its February meeting.

“Until I find out with certainty that they could not place a casino here, I can never vote for it,” commission chairman and District 7 Commissioner Steve Botts said after the meeting.

Botts added he would be “fine with it” if the county was assured the recognition would not lead to the opening of a casino.

“We need more information,” added District 6 Commissioner Kenny Pierpaoli. “The casino doesn’t concern me, other than I don’t want to make that decision for people.”

District 10 Commissioner Jo Skidmore voted against the deferral of the clan’s request and said Tuesday morning she supported their proposal.

“I think we should have gone on and recognized them … this was their country before it was ours,” Skidmore said.

“I’m not concerned about it at all. If I was going to build a casino, it wouldn’t be in Sumner County. It would be in Memphis or Davidson County,” she added. “Besides, what’s the difference between a casino and the lottery?”

The county Legislative Committee is expected to take up the issue at its Feb. 9 meeting. If that committee approves a resolution recognizing the clan, the recognition would then have to be approved by the full county commission in order to take effect.

Shields said the Cherokee Wolf Clan is comprised of several “different kinds of Indians,” not just Cherokees.

“That’s why we feel like we can represent all Native Americans,” he explained.

He said the village would conduct “pow-wows” and would encompass between 50 and 75 acres.

According to a brochure distributed to commissioners Monday night, the clan works to “keep our heritage and culture from vanishing from the face of the Earth” by teaching Native American customs and the Cherokee language.
Originally published Wednesday, January 14, 2004
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