The tribe that operates three casinos in the state is claiming victory in a dispute over whether the area where one of those operations is located is on federal reservation land.
The Escambia County Commission sought an opinion from the U.S. Department of the Interior, so that it could try to collect taxes from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. The Commission cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in questioning whether the land was actually in federal trust.
“The Department of the Interior can confirm that the land referenced in your letter was acquired in trust by the United States in 1984 and proclaimed to be a reservation in 1985,” Donald Laverdure, acting assistant secretary for Indian Affairs with the Interior Department, confirmed in a brief letter to the commission chairman dated June 4.
“The band’s reservation, including the portion of the reservation that is situated within the geographical boundary of Escambia County, Alabama, is held in trust by the United States for the benefit of the band. As such, the band enjoys all rights and privileges associated with having its reservation held in trust by the United States under federal law.”
The Poarch Creeks operate casinos in Montgomery, Wetumpka and Atmore, which is in Escambia County.
State Sen. Bryan Taylor, a Prattville Republican who represented the commission through his private law practice, said the Interior Department sidestepped the commission’s question and did not interpret why the land should be in trust.
“The two-paragraph letter completely ignores the Carcieri ruling and provides absolutely no legal explanation or citation to any legal authority whatsoever,” Taylor said in a statement. “The commission finds it telling and concerning that the Interior Department will not, or perhaps, cannot provide a legal basis for the PCI’s tax-exempt status after the Carcieri ruling.”