Land dispute between the Quapaw Tribe and Cherokee County

The Quapaw Tribe is in a land dispute with Cherokee County, Kansas. Both the tribe and the county lay claim to land that’s become part of a legal settlement.

The land in question is 200 acres in the southeastern corner of the county, just north of the tribe’s Downstream Casino.

Penn National Gaming had planned to use that site to build another casino. But when Penn National backed away from the plan the county filed suit, accusing them of breach of contract.

Last week a tentative settlement was reached in which Penn National agreed to give the land and $4.75 million in cash to Cherokee County.

“We pursued an action in state court, the court has ruled favorable upon the county’s motion for summary judgment and has found that Kansas Penn Gaming broke their contract with Cherokee County,” says Kevin Cure, the legal counsel for Cherokee County.

But now Cure says the Quapaw Tribe has notified the county that they had a tentative agreement to buy the land from Penn National and had already given a down payment toward the purchase.

“We weren’t trying to knowingly induce anyone to breach a contract – we understood they had the right to remove the land from that contract and get out from under it,” says Cure. “We’re confident that we are on the right track to achieve a good outcome for the county, whether it’s through a settlement or a trial, either way we’re sure we’re going to do well.”

“I think there are some interested parties that aren’t interested in the betterment of the local community,” says John Berrey, the Chairman of the Quapaw Business Committee. “It’s kind of a sad deal. We are good community members. We work hard. We employee a lot of people and we provide a lot of opportunities and we just find it very odd.”

Both sides agree the 200 acres is in a prime location and potentially very valuable. The value of the property is estimated at $2.5 million.

But who will own the property and what it’s future will be are still to be decided.