Osage buy land in Kansas as possible casino site, study commissioned

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PAWHUSKA, Okla. - The Osage Nation announced that a feasibility study will be conducted to determine the possibility of a Las Vegas-style casino-resort in Chautauqua County, Kansas. The tribe bought 100 acres of land along the Oklahoma/Kansas border.

The area the Osage Nation is eyeing is about 18 miles south of Sedan, Kan., the county seat. It borders Osage Nation reservation boundaries.

Joe Trumbly, chairman of the Osage Tribal Gaming Commission, said he believes the feasibility study can explore costs associated with operating the casino and the amount of revenue that could be anticipated from the gaming and entertainment facility.

Nation leaders say they see the casino-resort as a way to provide long-term economic development for the tribe. Trumbly said the bulk of the proceeds will be used to benefit tribal members. He added that non-tribal businesses in Chautauqua County also would benefit from the tourists and travelers who come to the resort.

The nation will have to get past the Kansas Legislature and the four Kansas tribes before they can start planning anything. In the past, when other Oklahoma tribes attempted to plan casinos in Kansas, the Kansas tribes and state government said "No."

The Wyandotte Nation went as far as renovating its casino building in the Kansas City area, but has not received the go ahead from the state of Kansas or the federal government. Other tribes such as the Delaware Nation are still looking in the Kansas area, but are not receiving support from the four resident tribes.

The Kickapoo Nation and the Prairie Band Potawatomi, Sac & Fox and Iowa tribes with reservations in Kansas all have gaming facilities.

But Osage Chief Charles O. Tillman Jr. doesn't see a lot of obstacles in front of the proposed Osage Casino. "The reason why is the Osage was in Kansas, years and years, way before 1825," Tillman said. "About half of Kansas was the old aboriginal Osage Indian Reservation. Kansas even has a county named Osage County. When we moved into Indian Territory, we moved down here and we did sell our piece of land in Kansas and bought what is now Osage County (Oklahoma). We are the only tribe who bought its own reservation."

Because of the nation's strong roots in Kansas, Tillman said he believes the Legislature and the governor will work with the tribe as it plans the resort-casino project and doesn't see a lot of problems ahead for the tribe.

"In visiting with some of the legislative people in Kansas, they know we didn't just 'spend the night in Kansas.' I think Kansas will work with the Osage Tribe of Indians."