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Old 09-10-2004, 10:20 AM   #1
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Casino near Denver...

Congress hears arguments for and against a new casino in Colorado
written by: Adam Schrager (9NEWS Reporter) posted by: Paola Farer (Web Producer)
Created: 9/8/2004 5:23 PM MDT - Updated: 9/8/2004 6:27 PM MDT

DENVER - Colorado politics had an audience in our nation's capital Wednesday - specifically the desire of two Native American tribes to build a casino near Denver.

Gov. Bill Owens traveled to Washington D.C. to testify before Congress against the plan.

The Cheyenne and Arapahoe tribes are seeking to develop land east of Denver International Airport into a $300 million project that includes a casino, retail and residential building.

The tribes are calling it "The Homecoming Project." They say after being forced out of Colorado to an Oklahoma reservation in the 19th century, it's time for reparations. Tribal leaders are seeking 27 million acres in Colorado--basically, from the mountains east to Kansas-or else 500 acres of property to develop.

The casino developers see a future profit for all Colorado, raising as much as a billion dollars for education in the state. "One-hundred percent of our money would go to education. We think that's a great proposition," said Steve Hillard, with the Native American Land Group.

Hillard was also in Washington to make his case before Congress.

"The fact is, on seven consecutive occasions the voters have turned down the expansion of gaming," said Dan Hopkins, Owens's press secretary.

He says despite the tribes' promises of 10,000 more jobs at no cost to taxpayers, Coloradans have historically rejected plans like this.

"The Governor simply believes it's bad policy to try to balance the state's budget on the backs of people who would be inclined to gamble," said Hopkins.

There is no time frame on when or even if Congress will get involved.

A poll by Survey USA would seem to back up the Governor's position. The poll asked 500 adults in the Denver area if they support the expansion of legalized casino gambling in Colorado. The majority, 56 percent, said they opposed it. Thirty-nine percent of the people surveyed said they were in favor and 5 percent weren't sure.

The tribal leaders cite a different poll showing Coloradans favor expanding gaming if money raised goes to education in the state.

What do you guys think of this... this is starting to get interesting!!!
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Old 09-10-2004, 10:21 AM   #2
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Darrell Flyingman testimony on behalf of the "The Homecoming Project" before the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Sept. 8, 2004.
posted by: Paola Farer (Web Producer)
Created: 9/8/2004 6:21 PM MDT - Updated: 9/8/2004 6:21 PM MDT

Good morning distinguished Staff Members of this honorable Committee. My name is Darrell Flyingman, and on behalf of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Council, I wish to thank you for this opportunity to speak about the Cheyenne and Arapaho Homecoming Project.

On October 4, 2003, at our annual Tribal Council meeting, the Tribal Council overwhelmingly approved a resolution supporting the Homecoming Project and authorizing the Native American Land Group to proceed full-speed ahead. I am here on behalf of the Tribal Council to urge your support for the Homecoming Project.

Most of our 11,400 members reside in west central Oklahoma in an area that was our last reservation as declared by Executive Order of 1869. Our last stop, you might say, in a series of forced moves dictated by treaties full of promises that rarely, if ever, came to pass.

One of those treaties, the Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1851, recognized the lands at issue, the 27 million acres of Colorado shown on the chart, as belonging to the Cheyenne and Arapaho. This land was our home, this land fed our people, this land was the heart of our people's life, economy and culture. However, white prospectors and settlers coveted our home's vast mineral wealth and rich farm lands. This ever-westward population expansion doomed our people's peaceful existence.

The incursions by the waves of settlers and prospectors who were determined to have it all, violated the Treaty and resulted in skirmishes between whites and Indians. These skirmishes escalated into conflicts, then into battles, and then into massacres- the most famous of these being the Sand Creek Massacre. Since my testimony is not about Sand Creek, all I intend to say about that episode is that, to this day, I can recall our elders tone of sorrow and grief when they spoke of the terror that the women and children of that doomed village experienced. That was the reality of Sand Creek.

A mere fifteen years following the signing of the Treaty, the Cheyenne and Arapaho had been ethnically cleansed from their ancestral home in Colorado, and forced to live on lands that sustained no game and bore no harvests. We were forced at gun-point into circumstances where we were expected to quietly wither and die. By the grace of God and the strength of our people, we survived and grew. However, our survival has come with heart-wrenching challenges largely unknown and not understood by those who now live in on our former lands in Colorado.

Today, our population is 11,400. The unemployment rate for tribal members is over 53%, more than ten times the rate in Colorado. Most are underemployed. Tribal per capita income is a mere $6,040, nearly one-sixth the rate in Colorado. Our life expectancy is 61 years, about 15 years shorter than average for Coloradoans. In short, our tribes' survival comes in spite of a vicious cycle of poverty, poor education and poor health. A cycle which has persisted over 140 years, and which will continue unabated without new opportunities.

We have come before you, today, to discuss our plan to return to a meaningful economic and cultural presence on ancestral lands near Denver- site of the Homecoming Project. We seek the fair opportunity to participate in the economy of our native lands in a manner no different than Colorado's other tribes. We seek the opportunity to build a casino on lands, which we would occupy today had the treaty violations and massacres of our people not occurred. Through this privately funded settlement of our land claims, we expect to generate over $1 billion over the next ten years for our people's education, healthcare and economic development.

By failing to reach a quick settlement with the Government, we fear we will not only lose another generation of Cheyenne and Arapaho to an unjust fate, but it will also cloud title to 27 million acres of Colorado and harm the investment made by millions of Coloradoans in their homes, farms, businesses and communities.

We urge Congress to expeditiously set up a mediated settlement process, with or without the state of Colorado.

We wish to thank the Native American Land Group and the more than 13,500 Alaskan Natives who are working with the Cheyenne and Arapaho in this economic development project. We believe that this is a new model for economic development in Indian Country, of Indians helping Indians. It is a shining example of Congressional acts, specifically IGRA and ANCSA, implemented thoughtfully and uniquely to benefit the tribes and the American people.

We thank you very much for this opportunity and the actions you will take on this matter.
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