Friday, November 16, 2012

Fort Sill Apache celebrate reservation anniversary

One year after being granted reservation status in New Mexico, the Fort Sill Apache raised their flag Friday on their 30-acre plot in the Akela Flats of southern New Mexico. But tribal Chairman Jeff Haozous says it will likely take generations to re-establish a true presence on tribal homelands. That remains contingent, however, on resolution of the tribe's longstanding battle to build a casino on the reservation, and there has been little progress in the last year. The casino is necessary for the tribe to be able to make money to expand the reservation and create the jobs necessary to lure tribal members back, Haozous said in a telephone interview. But Gov. Susana Martinez opposes the casino, saying the tribe promised it would not establish gambling when that land was first put into trust a decade ago. Additionally, other tribes that operate casinos in the state have failed to line up in support of the proposal, and others have questioned the tribe's sincerity in seeking the reservation status as part of its quest to return to its New Mexico homelands. Haozous, however, says he remains undeterred, and the tribe will submit its proposal to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Fort Sill Apache Tribe, which has about 700 members, is the legal successor of the Chiricahua, Warm Springs, Nednais and Bedonke bands of Apache Indians. They lived in southwestern New Mexico and Arizona until they were removed and made prisoners of war when Geronimo surrendered. They were first taken to Florida, then to Alabama and finally Oklahoma...more

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