Leaders of the Tuscarora Nation spoke to News13 after Monday’s raid on illegal casinos on the five territories.
Tuscarora Nation spokesperson, Timothy Jacobs, said he never thought the casinos were illegal.
“The reason the casinos were running was because we as Tuscarora Nation peoples, we do not receive any state or federal funding,” Jacobs explained. “We do not receive any funding from HUD or any other organization that does housing development for Native tribes. We have always maintained that we are the original peoples of North Carolina historically.”
Jacobs said the casinos were run to create jobs for the Tuscarora people, and the money was kept within the Tuscarora community in Robeson County.
“We were trying to create economic development to support our elders,” he said. “To try and do some housing construction, because if you look at the history of the Tuscarora people, and the current living situation in Robeson County, we live well below the poverty line.”
Jacobs explained that the Tuscarora Nation follows the Great Law of Peace rather than the United States Constitution.
“The Great Law of Peace is the original constitution foundation for governance among the Six Nation Iriquois Confederacy,” Jacobs explained. “We as Tuscarora Nation peoples are part of the Six Nations, and so under this constitution we are protected by our own treaty rights. We’re also protected by the UN Resolution called the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and so because of that reason, we maintain that we are a separate people, we have a separate government, and that the land itself we have was deeded under this government by the Tuscarora nation, and all of its people.”
A press release from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations says the arrests followed a “year-long multi-agency investigation that found the group operating three illegal casinos, an unlicensed police force, and a marijuana grow house.” The group was also “found to be manufacturing narcotics and making threats of war.”
However, Jacobs said the casinos began operation in January, and were even advertised and open to the public.
A purple sign that read “Tuscarora Nation of Indians Casino” with an arrow that pointed in the direction of the Nation’s land was a couple feet down the road from the Nation’s gates.
“We can demonstrate that the money was going back into the community,” Jacobs said. “There was no form of money laundering, there was no individuals helping themselves. This was a whole, collective community effort being done by the people.”
Jacobs said he believed the raid by the SBI on Monday was illegal.
“To us, it was an insult,” said Jacobs. “It was a violation of our rights because this land is deeded as Tuscarora Nation land. This land is not deeded under the state of North Carolina,” he continued. “It’s been a private entity. This land belongs to the Tuscarora Nation people as a whole, and that was the idea in creating the situation that we have here.”
Tuscarora council member, Keaton Oxendine, said he thought the raid was targeted based on ethnicity.
“We as indigenous and Native people were singled out,” Oxendine said. “We just see it as blunt, not only disrespect, but racial discrimination.”
Oxendine said although all five territories were raided by the SBI, illegal drugs were not found at all of them.
“It was said that all nations were a part of the drug raid and illegal gambling raid which is not true,” said Oxendine. “We at this territory had nothing to do with drugs.”
Jacobs said the Tuscarora Nation has plans to speak with political activists, and form a legal defense team to fight for the nation’s rights.
“They should recognize our rights to exist as a people,” Jacobs said about the United States government. “We have our culture, our ceremonies, our traditions. That’s what we were doing here, just putting things in place so we could revive all those things.”