Efforts to bring Osage Nation-owned and operated gaming to Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks region are continuing with the next crucial step of placing its purchased land into federal trust status.
On Sept. 26, the Eighth Osage Nation Congress unanimously passed resolution ONCR 22-12 (sponsored by Congressional Speaker Alice Goodfox), which is a “Resolution to request the placement of fee lands into trust by the Secretary of the Interior” with regard to the Nation-purchased land tracts located near the Lake of the Ozarks.
In June 2021, the Nation purchased 28 acres near the city of Lake Ozark in Miller County. For a tribe to build a casino, the land must be in trust status with the federal government, and a gaming compact must be in place with the state of Missouri.
According to the resolution: “The United States is authorized to acquire land into trust for the Osage Nation pursuant to (the Indian Reorganization Act); and the Osage Nation has an interest in placing fee land located in Miller County, Missouri into trust status for the purpose of economic development, including, but not limited to the conduct of gaming activities; and gaming revenues are currently used by the Osage Nation to fund government operations and programs, provide for the general welfare of the Nation and its members, and promote economic development will be secured by placing these fee lands into trust status; and the Osage Nation is the sole owner of a whole, unfractionated interest in the land causing title to rest with the Nation; and the parcel is located within the boundaries of the former Osage homeland in Missouri that was ceded in the 1808 Treaty with the Osage.”
“This resolution is the very first step in the application process that the Nation has to make to the (Bureau of Indian Affairs) to request the land go into trust,” Goodfox said during a Congressional Commerce Gaming and Land Committee meeting on Sept. 22.
Once the land-into-trust application process begins, it could take years to complete and Goodfox said “I don’t have any answers if anyone (asks) when will the land go into trust, that is a question that no one is able to answer.”
The Nation pursued the same land-into-trust application process for its Osage Casinos in Osage County, with the most recent applications approved in 2020 for the Pawhuska and Bartlesville land tracts where construction is underway on new hotel/ casino properties at both locations. The Bartlesville and Pawhuska land-into-trust applications were first submitted to the BIA in 2014 and 2016, respectively following similar resolutions approved by the ON Congress during those years.
In October 2021, the Nation announced it plans to invest $60 million in the Lake of the Ozarks region to develop the property featuring a casino, restaurants, entertainment and more.