The Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma is trying to figure out the next step to develop the land, including the possibility of a casino. No decision has been made, but right now the Tribe's main focus is to reclaim its history in the State.
A great history....
The Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma has plans to come back home.
"We really love Arkansas and see it as part of our home," said business chairman John Berrey.
The tribe had property in Pulaski County dating back to before the 1800's. but the United States government forced them to surrender their lands.
"Then in 1850s. We were removed from Arkansas and brought out to Indian Territory of Oklahoma," said Berrey.
Quapaw, Oklahoma is where the majority of the tribe's 4,500 members are now located.
Property near the Little Rock Port Authority is where Quapaws were for decades before moving northwest, which is the main reason why the tribe purchased 160 acres near Thibault Road in Little Rock recently.
"That's sort of where our history starts," said Berrey.
Berrey says the focus is now on determining what to do with the land.
"We are more concerned right now about our history and reestablishing ourselves to the people and children in Arkansas. We were part of the very beginning of the state and we want to be part of the future state of Arkansas," said Berrey.
Berrey says the tribe has a strong business arm in Oklahoma, including a portfolio of gas stations, restaurants, hotel, spa, golf course and two casinos.
Berrey says the tribe provides more than 2,000 jobs through its enterprises in Oklahoma.
So KARK asked him about the possibility of duplicating the business model in Little Rock.
He makes it clear, the group doesn't have any plans right now to build a casino or anything else in Pulaski County, but he doesn't rule out the possibility.
"I would never say never. We would love to help the state out in any fiscal situation. We would love to employ a lot of people. We have a great record in doing those type of things. So if the opportunity arises, we would probably take advantage of it , but right now, we are trying to protect it and be a good steward of what we own," said Berrey.
Berrey does acknowledge there has been mystery surrounding the possibility.
"I just think people try to put stuff together that may or may not exist. (The tribe) can game. We don't know what the opportunities are in Arkansas, but we just want to be part of the state," said Berrey.
He says there is no timetable to making a decision.
"Native Americans can have casinos under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. It is possible for tribes to have casinos. We have two, very beautiful, very nice casinos. We are very successful in the casino business. We are very efficient and we have a very nice product and we are a big economic impact on the region," said Berrey.
Nothing right now....
Berrey reemphasizes he doesnt know what will happen to the property in Pulaski County, but he says this time the Quapaws are coming back and they are coming back to stay.
Right now, he says the tribe is more interested in helping to educate the public about the Quapaw Tribes contributions to society..
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