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Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014

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Gambling question to Weatherford sparks mini-history lesson


Published:

House Speaker Will Weatherford is probably safe from a conflict of interest if the state agrees to a gaming compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

“Little known fact, my ancestor’s name was Red Eagle, he was chief of the Creek Indians 200 years ago,” Weatherford said after Friday’s House session.

“I’ve got a picture of him in my office,” he said. “I am actually of some Creek descent, though I don’t know how much now.”

The Poarch, who have land in Escambia County, recently sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott asking to enter into an agreement with the state to open a casino there with Las Vegas-style games.

Scott has agreed to meet, his spokesman said. The governor’s office didn’t have an update Friday.

Any compact, or agreement between the tribe and the state, would have to be approved by lawmakers and federal Indian gaming regulators.

Red Eagle, born William Weatherford, was “arguably the best known war leader in the Creek War of 1813-14,” according to the Encyclopedia of Alabama. Weatherford surrendered to Gen. Andrew Jackson after a rout of Creek forces.

“I haven’t spoken to the Creeks; I don’t know what they’re pushing for,” Will Weatherford said. “I have no idea, legally speaking, how that even works. What I do know is, I think the lights are out for gaming this session.”

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