Archive for Thursday, July 13, 2000

Local tribe enters into Sunflower equation

July 13, 2000

A local Indian tribe claims its offer to purchase the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant from the federal government has been ignored.

Members of the United Tribe of Shawnee Indians say they offered to rid the former ammunition plant of contaminants in exchange for the land, a deal similar to the one currently being negotiated between the government and Oz Entertainment Company. Oz officials have committed to spending $37 million to clean the land.

Blaine Hastings of the U.S. General Services Administration said last month he had not received an official offer from the tribe or from its chief, Jimmie Oyler.

"I've received a few e-mail messages saying they were interested, but I have not received a formal proposal," he said. "If Mr. Oyler is interested, he needs to send us something in a hard copy, not just a general broadcast over the Internet."

According to a press release issued by the tribe, the Shawnee Indians want to build a casino on Indian land, located on the eastern edge of DeSoto. The tribe would use profits from the casino to purchase the ammunition plant. The tribe would develop the 9,065 acres into a historical nature and learning center. According to tribe officials, the center would be open to the public.

Contracts for the Oz deal have been completed but not signed. Hastings said the land remains available until the contracts are signed. To purchase the land, however, the tribe would need the cooperation of either the state, the county or a local city.

"The land has not been offered for sale to the public. Mr. Oyler would need to talk to the state, the county or even the city of DeSoto," Hastings said. "We have no deal with Oz right now. We have a deal with the state and the state has a deal with Oz. Mr. Oyler needs to brush up on his law and then contact the proper people."

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