After years of waiting, the Osage Nation has finally received federal approval to put land into trust that will enable it to construct new tribal casinos in Bartlesville and Pawhuska.
Near Bartlesville, the Osage Nation is planning to build a 57,400-square-foot casino and a hotel with 150 rooms and about 11,800 square feet of meeting space, according to a news release issued by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The casino will be built on 125 acres of property located about two miles west of Bartlesville along U.S. 60.
In Pawhuska, 63.1 acres of property located along U.S. Highway 99/60 were placed into trust for gaming and other purposes.
Initially, the plan is to move the existing Pawhuska Osage Casino onto 17 acres of the site.
Eventually, the plan is to “replace it with a proposed casino and hotel project that will be located approximately 300 feet directly across Highway 99/60,” the news release said.
The Osage Nation has had an application pending with the federal government since 2014 to get the Bartlesville land placed into trust so a casino could be built. Its application for the Pawhuska land has been pending since 2016.
“The Osage Nation will begin at once to turn dirt and construct new amenities on these parcels that will help boost our region’s economic recovery from this COVID-19 pandemic,” Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey M. Standing Bear stated in the news release.
The chief thanked federal officials for approving “our applications after they languished for nearly a decade in the dust bins of the federal bureaucracy.”
“With this action, The Osage Nation can now move forward on its economic development plans and enjoy the benefits of its lands,” said Tara Sweeney, assistant secretary — Indian Affairs. “I congratulate Principal Chief Standing Bear and the Osage people on this achievement. Your success is a testament to your determination to bring greater prosperity to The Osage Nation now and for generations to come.”
Federal officials signed off on putting the land into trust in June and the decision was published in the federal register Friday, enabling the tribe to move forward with the projects.