Catawba Tribe Loses Supreme Court Poker Battle in South Carolina


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Most Indian tribes are not regulated by state laws and are usually governed by themselves, this is not the case, however, for the Catawba Indian Tribe in South Carolina.

In 1993, a land settlement was reached over 144,000 acres of land that the tribe had argued was illegally taken from them in an 1840 treaty. The Indian tribe was awarded its land, or at least 630 acres of it, along with $50 million and having its rights as a nation restored.

Along with that, the tribe felt that since they were no longer bound by the laws of South Carolina that they would have no problem putting video poker machines on their reservations.

They were wrong, and after being told the machines would not be allowed, they brought the matter to the Supreme Court. After learning of the Supreme Court’s decision, Tribe attorney Jay Bender had this shocking reaction, “At every opportunity the state has tried to trim back what it agreed to give the tribe to get the land claim settled. I guess in my cynical evaluation I have continued to believe that screwing Indians is still public policy in South Carolina.”

The state attorney did not respond to the comments immediately.

The Catawbas became the 317th recognized Indian Tribe back in 1994, and although they were disappointed about the outcome, they will push forward with their ultimate goal, which is bringing high stakes bingo to their reservation.