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Eastern Band Files Amended Lawsuit To Block Catawaba Casino

Matt Bush
Blue Ridge Public Radio
The Catawaba Indian got permission to build the casino near Charlotte in March.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) has amended its federal lawsuit which hopes to block the Catawaba Nation, based in South Carolina, from building a casino near Charlotte.

“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,” says Chief Richard Sneed, in a press release. 

The lawsuit was filed by the EBCI and 12 individual tribal members who live near the planned casino site.

The complaint now states that the Department of the Interior has violated the law in their decision to take the land into trust for the Catawba casino project in Kings Mountain, North Carolina.  

The lawsuit also alleges that an “unsavory but well-connected casino developer in South Carolina, Wallace Cheves,” is behind the “scheme.” It continues by pointing to a 2007 case, in which two “Catawba-connected businessmen” pled guilty to funneling money to politicians in order to reverse South Carolina’s ban on gaming, as proof of the Catawba’s desire to open a casino. 

In contrast, the Catawaba Indian Nation says that the area where the casino will be built is their ancestral land. 

“The land is located in close proximity to our current landholdings and is our ancestral land, in an area that the Catawba people have used and occupied since time immemorial,” says Chief William Harris of the Catawaba Indian Nation in a press release.

Rendings of the plans for the casino complex were presented in March. Right now, there isn’t a timeline for the project. Construction is estimated to cost $273 million.

The Cherokee Nation has also filed an amended complaint seeking to protect cultural artifacts on the site.


Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.