The Poarch Band of Creek Indians has now publicly accused Muscogee (Creek) Nation citizen Wayland Gray of threatening to burn down the band’s casino at Hickory Ground in Wetumpka, Alabama.
Gray was arrested Friday, February 15 by Poarch Band police with three other men as they tried to access the sacred Hickory Ground site to pray for the Muscogee ancestors buried there. The men oppose the Poarch Band’s development of the Wind Creek Wetumpka Casino on the site and particularly Poarch’s excavation of at least 57 sets of human remains of Muscogee ancestors. All four men were charged with trespassing; three of them were released later on Friday, but Gray was additionally charged with making a “terrorist threat” and detained. As of Monday, February 18, he remains in the Elmore Country Jail in Wetumpka.
In an interview with Indian Country Today Media Network on Sunday, February 17, Gray said the Poarch Band had trumped up the charge against him. “When I was getting into the [police] car I told them that one day we will be back and we’ll be able to honor our ancestors when this place [the casino] is torn down.” He challenged Poarch to release a video of his arrest, which he said would exonerate him of the charge. The full story including ICTMN’s exclusive interview with Gray is available here.
Until late Sunday, Poarch had not revealed what the alleged terrorist threat was. Late Sunday night, Poarch responded to an email from ICTMN asking what the terrorist threat was and whether Poarch would release the video. Poarch spokeswoman Sharon Delmar said in an email, “To answer your… questions below: Mr. Gray threatened to burn down the casino. At this time the video that we have is not being released as it is evidence in an ongoing investigation.”
Gray could not be reached in jail on Monday for additional comments.