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Pueblo Officials Want to Hear More About Casino Proposal

14 September 2005

Las Vegas Sun

PUEBLO, Colorado -- City officials say they're interested in a proposal by Oklahoma Indian tribes to build a $100 million casino and hotel but said they could still reject the deal later.

On a 5-1 vote, the City Council agreed Monday to sign a nonbinding letter of interest in the proposal by the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma.

"I think it's too early to sign a (final) deal and too early to say no," Councilman Ray Aguilera said.

The tribes first sought to build the complex east of Denver, but that proposal ran into fierce opposition from Gov. Bill Owens. The tribes said last month they were considering a site along the Arkansas River in Pueblo instead.

The tribes lived in what is now Colorado until their members were forcibly removed in 1860s. Their leaders have said they would drop their claim on 27 million acres of the state if the casino project were allowed to proceed.

Opponents warned council members they were surrendering their bargaining power by signing a letter of interest. They said a casino could feed gambling addictions, tax city services and create a sovereign Indian nation within the city limits that could ignore city ordinances.

"We need to take a really, really long wait on this," Catherin Castillo said.

Hanna Rush, chairwoman of the group Citizen Action, said the issue should be put on a citywide ballot.

"You are moving toward changing the face our of city forever without giving us a vote," she said.

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