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Native Land Adjacent To Lawrence, Kan. Under Scrutiny

Lawrence leaders aim to meet with counterparts in the Delaware Tribe of Oklahoma to learn plans for land that borders the city.

Mayor Mike Dever says a tribal intermediary never mentioned the word "casino" for the 90 acres recently purchased along I-70 and north of city limits, what Dever calls some of the most fertile farmland in the region.

Dever had informal talks with an unnamed third party interested in Native American affairs.

“Gaming was never brought up in that discussion," he said. "They talked about developing a health care center, maybe a day care and then of course the tribal headquarters, but we never discussed gaming.”

Dever is ready to meet tribal leaders at their Bartlesville, Okla. headquarters as early as Monday, or as the mayor put it,“almost as soon as I can pack a bag.”

Dever said he expects someone from the Douglas County Commission and Lawrence city manager to also take part.

He hopes the Delaware chief is open to listening to a city-county master plan that keeps most of the land in agriculture.

The mayor understands that only one person has final authority on what happens to the land and that is the tribal Chief.

Tribal leaders have said they want to have the land placed under federal trust. Such a designation would give the Delaware tribe complete power over use, not beholden to local governments.

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