The following is a statement by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians:
CHOCTAW – Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood issued a memorandum on July 15 in response to the request from Gov. Haley Barbour to review the compact between the State and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (MBCI) in an effort to stop the Tribe’s planned gaming project on Choctaw reservation land in the Bogue Homa community.
The Attorney General’s memorandum states, “Conclusion: After thorough review, staff has found no viable legal cause of action which would halt the proposed development, either by challenging the validity of the 1992 Gaming Compact between the State of Mississippi and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (hereinafter “Compact”), or by otherwise challenging the proposed development itself.” A full copy of the memorandum is attached.
Under the Compact, the Tribe has a federally protected right to develop gaming facilities on property held in trust. The lands in Jones County have been held in trust for the Tribe since 1939 and was declared Choctaw Reservation land in 1944.
“We are pleased with the Attorney General’s analysis of the Compact. Governor Kirk Fordice had the wisdom, vision and courage to sign the Compact in 1992, recognizing the sovereignty of this Tribe and the positive impacts that gaming provides to the Tribal government, as well as the positive economic impact it has beyond the Tribe’s borders. And although there is some disagreement among state leaders with our decision, we will continue to work with our allies at the federal, state and local level to make this project a win-win,” said Miko Beasley Denson.
The Tribal Council has approved plans for a 27,000 square foot building, which will look similar to the original Silver Star facility. A satellite operation of the Pearl River Resort, the facility will be licensed and regulated by the Choctaw Gaming Commission and the National Indian Gaming Commission.
Representatives of the Tribe and the Pearl River Resort are working with Jones County elected officials on infrastructure needs around the facility, including improved roads and new bridges. “We know that the private, for-profit casinos are not happy about this project. And their influence may be driving some of the opposition from state officials, but we know there is support for this project. In fact, an online poll at the Laurel Leader Call shows 57 percent of readers believe that the facility will be good for Jones County,” said Tribal Councilwoman Lola Parkerson.