Thu., April 7, 2011 4:16pm (EDT)

Gambling Fears Cloud Indian Claim
By Orlando Montoya
Updated: 3 years ago

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga.  —  
(photo Yam Nahar)
(photo Yam Nahar)
An Oklahoma-based band of Creek Indians wants US Indian Affairs officials to declare part of St. Simons Island Georgia's first federally-approved Native American reservation.

Gambling concerns could complicate their plans.

The Kialegee Tribe tried unsuccessfully about ten years ago to create a Georgia homeland.

This time, they're eyeing about 4,000 acres on the coast.

They have a contract for the land contingent on federal officials declaring a new reservation.

Chief Vonnie McCormick of the state-recognized Lower Muscogee Indians says, she's afraid, there's only one reason for the move.

"They originally said that they were going to put in gaming and that's really not something that our tribe would like to see come into Georgia," McCormick says. "Georgia for years have been a spot that all of the federal tribes are looking at. And they all want to come into Georgia to put in gaming. So, it's just going to open the floodgates."

McCormick says, the Kialegee were originally in Alabama, but lived in Georgia for about 20 years before the US Army forcibly removed them in the Trail of Tears.

Tribal plans call for a hotel, entertainment center and golf course.

Some local officials believe the development -- short of a casino -- might boost the economy.

The federal application could take years.