First Posted: 1/15/2009
2 charged with gaming claim sovereign status
LUMBERTON - A Superior Court judge denied a motion for the dismissal of charges against two men, each charged with illegal gambling, who say they are members of the Turtle Indian Nation and therefore have sovereignty.
The two men, charged with felony gambling on March 7, 2003, claimed Monday that the state of North Carolina doesn't have the jurisdiction to charge them.
Gary Phillip “Two Bears” Oxendine, 55, and Chris Todd “Oocheeeh Gahahah” Hardison, 34, face charges of felony operation of five or more video gaming machines, failure to register video machines with the Sheriff's Office and conspiracy to commit a felony of operating five or more video gaming machines.
A third man, Robert Daniel “Gahliduh Ayahnooli” Rose, 37, of 6555 Dearborn Drive, Falls Church, Va., who also faces the same charges, is wanted on a fugitive warrant for his arrest for not appearing in court.
Both Oxendine and Hardison argued that the state of North Carolina didn't have jurisdiction over them because the Turtle Nation is a sovereign nation. Superior Court Judge Frank Floyd denied the request for dismissal and set another administrative court date for July 12.
The two men, appearing in court wearing Polo style shirts with The United Nation of Turtle Island written on the front, acted as their own attorneys.
Sheriff's investigators raided Oxendine's residence at 224 Barber Shop Road in Pembroke last year and seized 17 video poker machines, one blackjack machine and $6,087.88 in cash.
“The Turtle Nation is not recognized by the United States,” Assistant District Attorney Tony Berk said. “The Cherokee is the only tribe recognized by the state.”
Oxendine told the court that no one has the right to tell him who he is.
“I know I'm Tuscarora Cherokee,” he said. “Nobody can tell me who I am. I don't have to go to the Tuscarora or the Cherokee to ask who I am.”
Oxendine asked the court why North Carolina can tell natives what to do.
“There weren't no criminal intent,” Oxendine said after the court's ruling about the charges. “We believe, by birthright as natives, we had a right to do the gaming.”
Floyd ordered prosecutors to make available a copy of the WBTW Channel 13 videotape of its news broadcast when the men were interviewed at Oxendine's residence on March 5 last year.