Saturday, July 24, 2004

Shawnee to visit proposed casino location in Ohio

Tribal leaders checking area

The Associated Press

BOTKINS, Ohio - This western Ohio village will be getting a visit this week from the Eastern Shawnee Indian chief and tribal council from Oklahoma who want to inspect a proposed casino site.

Terry Casey, a Columbus consultant with National Capital 1, a development company representing the tribe, said the group will attend a Monday evening reception at Botkins High School. They plan to perform a Tuesday sunrise ceremonial blessing at the casino site off Interstate 75.

Casey said tribe representatives also plan to attend a performance of the historical outdoor drama Blue Jacket near Xenia, which tells the story of a Shawnee chief.

They also will visit Lewistown, the ancestral home of the tribe, from which they were forced to march west in 1831 by the federal government.

Casey said the reason for the visit is twofold.

"It's in part educational for the tribe, because many have not been up here, but it's a way to get them up on their tribal history in Ohio. It's also an opportunity for the community of Botkins to meet and get to know more about the tribe."

The tribe is hoping to build a "resort destination" casino and gaming facility similar to the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mount Pleasant, Mich., Casey said.

The Shelby County village, about 50 miles north of Dayton, owns 50 acres and the purchase of an adjoining 83 acres from private owners is being finalized.

Gov. Bob Taft's spokesman Orest Holubec said the governor remains opposed to expanding gambling in Ohio, and he has no plans to meet with the Shawnee or their representatives.

"We had not planned to meet with the governor," Casey said. "We don't have our economic package together. We've don't want to bother the governor until we have our sites, economic impact and other factors together, which we expect to have in three to five months."

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