Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker announced Thursday that Cherokee Nation Entertainment will offer employment to workers displaced by the closing of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees’ Tahlequah casino. UKB casino officials have exhausted all legal options to take the casino land into trust, and the gaming facility is set to close at midnight on Friday, August 30.
“Employees of the Keetoowah Cherokee Casino are innocent bystanders in this two decades long legal battle,” Baker said. “While we may be different Cherokee tribes, we come from one fire. Welcoming our Keetoowah brothers and sisters with open arms is simply the right thing to do.”
The two Tahlequah-based tribes have been negotiating to keep the casino running by having the Cherokee Nation put the UKB's casino land into trust. Thus the UKB could then operate its casino under a 99-year lease.
Amanda Clinton, a Cherokee Nation spokeswoman, told the muscogeephoenix.com yesterday afternoon there is no news on those negotiations, but that the Cherokee Nation would “continue to work with the UKB toward the best resolution for all.”
Cherokee Nation Entertainment officials have scheduled three employment registration meetings for displaced UKB gaming employees. The meetings will be held Tuesday Sept. 3 from 10 a.m. to noon, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. All meetings will be at the Webb Building on the Northeastern State University campus at 610 N. Grand Avenue, Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Interested displaced UKB casino employees need to attend only one of the three scheduled meetings. All meeting participants should be prepared to provide proof of UKB casino employment, such as recent a pay stub, and two forms of identification. Free parking is available next to the Webb Building.
Chief Baker emphasized that CNE officials are working diligently to minimize any disruption in pay for UKB casino employees.
“The most important thing is that these innocent workers who may be displaced are still able to provide for their families,” Baker said. “We want to calm any fears they may have and let them know we will do everything in our power to make sure any transition is as smooth as possible.”