Jason Harris Announces Campaign for Catawba Chief, Offers Update on Two Kings Casino

The current Assistant Chief of the Catawba Nation, Jason Harris, is aiming for a higher office. He recently declared his candidacy to become the Chief of the Carolinas-based tribal nation at a United South & Eastern Tribes meeting in Nashville. This news was announced by his spokesperson, who also confirmed that the current Chief, Bill Harris, is not intending to seek re-election.

On his campaign website, Harris spoke of his experience in his two terms as Assistant Chief, in which he helped the nation attain gaming rights. This led to the opening of the Two Kings Casino in Kings Mountain, NC, not too far from Charlotte. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians had challenged the federal government’s decision to take North Carolina land into trust for the Catawba Nation, which previously only had a reservation in South Carolina.

South Carolina has not allowed the tribe to operate a casino there. Two Kings currently operates from a temporary venue on the 17-acre site until the permanent $273 million resort opens. Harris stated that his platform will focus on completing the casino project, providing per capita payments to citizens, and offering a death benefit for financial security during times of need.

In December, the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) raised concerns about the tribe not being the primary beneficiary of the casino, which is a requirement in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). Harris stated that the tribe is working with their lawyers to address the language issues, and that they are in contact with several banks to finance the permanent venue.

The election to decide the Chief and the other four members of the Catawba Nation Executive Committee will take place on July 29. It is unknown if Harris has any opponents at the moment.