AUSTIN -- Hundreds of community members from the Polk County area packed five charter buses and traveled to Austin on Wednesday to show their support of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe during their special event on the south lawn of the State Capitol.
The tribe was honored as the state approved a resolution for Alabama-Coushatta Day at the Capitol, presented by State Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) and State Representative James White (R-Hillister). The event was a major milestone in the tribe’s public campaign to raise awareness of their community and economy during an ongoing legal battle with the state over Naskila Entertainment.
The large crowd from Polk County arrived as the Alabama-Coushatta Color Guard and Tribal Dancers kicked-off the event on the south lawn with their Grand Entry and dance performances, which also began to draw in the locals from downtown Austin.
Tribal council members and representatives welcomed the crowd, which included state house and senate members, and thanked them for their support. Local officials from Polk and Tyler County were also in attendance to speak and show their ongoing support.
Visitors were all invited to learn about the Alabama-Coushatta’s history, community and how to support its efforts to keep the Naskila gaming facility open. Tribal leaders told legislators that Naskila has served as a much-needed economic boost for the tribal community during its first year of operation.
Informational and cultural displays were set up for visitors to learn more about the tribe, while a free barbecue lunch was served to all in attendance. Free shirts and promotional items were also given away to visitors.
Sen. Nichols later visited for a short time to address the crowd and acknowledged the importance of the event for the tribe’s popularity among state officials in Austin.
“I can guarantee that every house member and senate member and their staff knows about the tribe now,” Nichols told the Enterprise. “It’s a great way for the tribe to introduce themselves to everybody because they have unique issues that are important...Things like today with having such a large presence at the Capitol is very meaningful because a lot of members did not even know we had the tribe in East Texas. This opens it up.”
Rep. White also came to speak and openly expressed his ongoing support for the tribe’s Naskila campaign.
“I’m so proud of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe and I’m honored to represent them,” said White. “What this does today is shows their contribution to the state of Texas and we need to lift them up. I think with all the court scenarios going on right now, they are being treated very badly. This shows that they contribute and they have doing it for a long time.”
Court proceedings on the Naskila gaming facility are expected to start by mid-2017. For more information and updates on the Support Naskila campaign, visit supportnaskila.com.