Sen. Cornyn sends letter opposing Alabama-Coushatta Tribe’s gaming facility

Sen. Cornyn sends letter opposing Alabama-Coushatta Tribe’s gaming facility
The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe hopes a bill moving through the U.S. House will allow it to maintain the Naskila gaming facility. (Khyati Patel/KTRE Multimedia Journalist)

LIVINGSTON, Texas (KTRE) - The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas has responded to a letter written by Texas Sen. John Cornyn opposing the tribe’s electronic gaming facility.

The letter Cornyn sent to the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee reads:

As you know, H.R.759, the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama-Coushatta Tribes of Texas Equal and Fair Opportunity Settlement Act, passed the U.S. House of Representatives on July 24, 2019, and was subsequently referred to your committee.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and Attorney General Ken Paxton have concerns with this legislation because current federal law prohibits gambling on tribal lands unless authorized by the State of Texas.

Under Texas law, most forms of gambling are prohibited, including on Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama-Coushatta tribal lands. This matter is currently the subject of litigation in federal court.

In light of these legal and policy disagreements between the Texas state government and these tribes, I request any committee hearings concerning this legislation be postponed until these parties have reached a resolution or agreement.

I appreciate your consideration of this request.

A statement released on behalf of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe reads in part:

The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas is disappointed to learn that on October 9, Senator John Cornyn delivered a letter to the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee requesting the committee postpone hearings regarding HR 759.

The legislation is a 19-word bill passed unanimously by the U.S. House of Representatives and supported by the Trump Administration that affirms the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe’s ability to offer electronic bingo on tribal land and requires all three of Texas’ Native American tribes be treated equally under the law.

According to Cecilia Flores, Chairwoman of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, “Senator Cornyn’s letter represents the latest in a series of delays by some Texas elected officials, who appear to be prioritizing politics over equality for the state’s Native American tribes, as well as jobs and economic growth in East Texas.”

The tribe seeks to operate its Naskila Gaming Facility without interference from the state of Texas.

“We are a federally recognized tribe with sovereign rights, and we would like to assert those sovereign rights,” Alabama-Coushatta Chairwoman Cecilia Flores told KTRE back in June - before the U.S. House passed H.R. 759.

The Naskila gaming facility opened in 2016.

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