After years of effort and a July 22, 2020, ground breaking, the Catawba Indian Nation has further advanced its proposed casino in Cleveland County, North Carolina, announcing the $273 million investment would be dubbed Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort.
The unveiling of the new name and logo came via a private event on Friday, August 28, 2020, attended by citizens of the Catawba Nation community, casino project partners, and Kings Mountian officials.
Developed in consultation with New York-headquartered hospitality company Delaware North, the logo for the casino to be located approximately 35 miles from Charlotte, in the small suburban city of Kings Mountain, has historical significance to the federally-recognized tribe.
Commenting on the significance of the newly-chosen name, Catawba Chief Bill Harris said in an August 31, 2020, press release (pdf)…
“Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort celebrates our rich history and hopeful future in our ancestral lands in North Carolina – where our people were established hundreds of years ago, as the names Catawba River, Catawba County and Catawba College suggest.
“The name pays tribute to the 18th century Catawba Chief King Hagler and to the City of Kings Mountain, which will be home to the new casino resort. It also symbolizes the unique relationship that the Catawba people have historically had – and will continue to strengthen going forward – with fellow residents of the region.”
The logo depicts a silhouette of King Hagler, who was a chief of the Catawba Tribe from 1754 to 1763 and responsible for negotiating the Pine Hill Treaty in 1760, which guaranteed the tribe a territory – approximately two million acres – near Waxhaw, North Carolina along the Catawba River, in exchange for 55,000 square miles that they considered to be their traditional home. After the chief’s murder in 1763, the conditions of the treaty were all but forgotten and the Catawba were instead forced onto a small reservation covering just 144,000 acres near Lancaster, South Carolina, according to multiple sources.
Originally announced by the Catawba in 2013, the plan to build a casino in Kings Mountain was endorsed by Cleveland County officials straight away, however, then-Governor Pay McCrory, 100 of the 170 members of the North Carolina General Assembly, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) opposed it.
In August 2013, the tribe’s application to the US Department of the Interior (DOI) to place the nearly 17-acre North Carolina site in trust was denied in March 2018. A new application was submitted by the Catawba several months later in September under the discretionary process and was finally approved by the DOI on March 13, 2020. Just four days later, the EBCI filed suit in the US District Court in the District of Colombia against the Federal Government.
The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma also filed a motion to support the EBCI.
On April 30, 2020, the EBCI’s request for a preliminary injunction to stop construction on the casino was rejected by US District Court Judge James E. Boasberg in Washington, DC, who said the Cherokee Tribe had not suffered “irreparable harm” by the DOI’s approval of the Catawba casino.
The EBIC is responsible for Harrah’s Cherokee Resort Hotel and Casino in Cherokee and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River in Murphy, North Carolina, both in partnership with Caesars Entertainment Corporation., while the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma’s subsidiary, Cherokee Nation Entertainment (CNE), operates 10 casinos in Oklahoma.
In early July, the EBCI filed an amended complaint in its federal lawsuit, while the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma also filed its own amended complaint.
At the time of the filing, Principal Chief of the EBCI, Richard G. Sneed, commented on the filing, stating…
“We welcome the growing coalition that is fighting against the DOI’s decision. The decision is an egregious violation of federal law, and our amended complaint will establish for the court that there is no legitimate, legal basis for the decision.”
The Catawba broke ground on the casino located at 245 Dixon School Road a few weeks after the suit was filed by the EBIC, celebrating the beginning of construction at the King’s Mountian site, where the first phase of the casino will (initially) feature about 1,300 slot machines, table games, and restaurants, and is anticipated to open next summer, according to the tribe’s most recent press release.
In addition to the Lumbee and other local Native American tribes, the casino resort continues to receive strong support from the City of Kings Mountain, along with Cleveland County, which has, according to the press release, established an intergovernmental agreement with the Catawba on the development and operations of the casino resort.
The Nation will reportedly be working closely with city and county leaders to see the “full project,” which is projected to create as many as 5,000 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent jobs, come to fruition.