Alabama-Coushatta celebrates Powwow while fighting to keep bingo hall open

Alabama-Coushatta celebrates Powwow while fighting to keep bingo hall open
Source: KTRE
Source: KTRE

LIVINGSTON, TX (KTRE) - The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas started their 49th Powwow near Livingston, an annual celebration bringing tribes and people from across the continent.

But in the midst of the tradition, the tribe is in a legal battle with the Texas Attorney General's office. However, organizers said right now the time is to focus on the ceremony.

For the two-day celebration, dozens made their journey to the tribe's reservation place at Veteran's ballpark to meet with other friends and family.

"We have people all over the United States and even from Canada. I know my cousin's wife and she here," said Tobine Alec, the vice chairman to the Powwow committee.

Numerous people participated in dances, while organizers said they're able to help live their heritage and culture.

But during these joyful times, a dark cloud holds over.

"We're in a lawsuit with the State of Texas. That lawsuit is filed by the Texas Attorney General," said Carlos Bullock, a spokesperson. "We are in court right now. But we are going to win when we get to court."

Brewing a legal battle, multiple reports have stated the state claims the tribe's electronic bingo gaming center is illegal. State attorneys argue the facility violates Texas Gambling Laws while the lawyers for the tribe argue National Indian Gaming Commission had the authority to approve the 2016 opening of Naskila Gaming Center because the tribe was given federal recognition by the U.S. Department of Interior.

Although this lawsuit looms, members of the tribe said the celebrations will continue.

"The powwow has been going on for 49 years. And they'll go on even if Naskila would close," Bullock said. "But we're confident that Naskila is going to remain open because we know that we're doing everything legally and we're waiting for our day in court."

The gaming center remains open during the legal trouble employing 200 to 250 people.

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