|Updated: 1/30/2012 9:27 am
||Published: 1/27/2012 7:59 pm
As controversy continues regarding plans for the Kialegee Tribal Town to build a casino in a Broken Arrow neighborhood, leaders of the tribe revealed their motivation Friday.
Tiger Hobia, the Mekko, or king, of the Kialegee Tribal Town says the tribe has faced financial hardships for far too long. Hobia says his job as Mekko is to find ways to improve the quality of life of tribal members, and building the casino is the best way to do that.
"We've had our struggles," Hobia said. "And still, actually, kind of struggling to make ends meet."
"That's hard to overcome to do what we want to do with the tribe on the land that we have."
For too long, Hobia says, the tribe has relied on government assistance to provide services to tribal members. And for years, Hobia says the tribe's mentality had been the same.
"One of these days our opportunity's gonna come along to make the tribal town a whole lot better."
That opportunity finally came, but it came with a lot of opposition.
"Really, actually, it took us by surprise how this is... not really getting out of hand, but we're just a small tribe."
Hobia and attorney Vicki Sousa say the tribe has gone by the book to get the casino built, but recognize there are things they could have done to avoid the current controversy.
"Look, we had no idea that the homeowners were going to... that there would be this type of opposition," Sousa said. "You know, hindsight is 20/20. I wish we could have don it. We should have done it a different way. But now it's already happened."
But Hobia says he hopes the people of Broken Arrow will realize that the casino won't ruin their neighborhood. But it will improve the lives of the tribe's 400-plus members.
"We're there just to make our members in our tribal town... put us in a better situation from where we are now."
The Red Clay Casino is currently under construction at S. 111th Street and 129th E. Avenue in Broken Arrow. It is expected to open for business in late March or early April.