ROCK HILL, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – A reporter who was covering a Catawba Nation meeting this weekend near Rock Hill was removed from the meeting and cited for trespassing, Queen City News has confirmed.

The Post and Courier, which covers news across the state of South Carolina with roots in Charleston, said on Saturday that one of its reporters, Maggie Brown, had been charged with trespassing while covering a Catawba Nation meeting.

Brown is a beat reporter for the Post and Courier in the Rock Hill area, part of the paper’s statewide coverage plan, and is a native North Carolinian, according to the newspaper’s website. Brown had been working on a story about the Native American Catawba Nation tribe cutting ties with its casino partner amid federal scrutiny.

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Last month, a notice of violation was issued last month against the Catawba Indian Nation and its Two Kings Casino partners by the National Indian Gaming Commission for expanding the casino without an approved management contract. “We issued a Notice of Violation to both enforce regulatory compliance and ensure the Nation is the primary beneficiary of its gaming revenue,” the commission said in a statement released at the time. The partners are Kings Mountain Sky Boat Partners, LLC (Sky Boat), and Sky Boat’s owners. The investigation was conducted by the commission’s D.C. bureau. Penalties at the time were said to have included a possible daily $57,000-pluss fine.

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Saturday’s meeting had over 200 people in attendance and was held on the reservation near Rock Hill to discuss those ties with its casino partners, the newspaper said. The sheriff’s office said the meeting was not open to the public. Brown was removed from the meeting, handcuffed, and placed in the back of a cruiser, before being released, the article said. The York County Sheriff’s Office told Queen City News that Brown was given a citation for trespassing and released. Brown had requested to attend the meeting prior to the incident and was denied by the tribal administration, according to the sheriff. A request for a comment from the newspaper’s editor was not immediately responded to.

Catawba Two Kings Casino opened in 2021. “Anytime you go there, late at night, the parking lot is full,” Kings Mountain Mayor Scott Neisler told Queen City News shortly after its debut.

Last year right before the start of the current NFL season, a 24-hour sports book featuring 30 kiosks opened inside the casino.

Catawba Nation said Brown has been banned from tribal lands and released the following statement on Sunday.

There is an unfortunate and long history of non-Native people not respecting the lands, laws, and traditions of Native people. During a General Council meeting of Catawba citizens yesterday, Post and Courier reporter Maggie Brown Driggers chose to add to this history.

Catawba General Council meetings are gatherings of Catawba citizens to discuss, debate, and ultimately vote on issues facing the Nation. These meetings are open only to Catawba citizens and invited guests. We are a sovereign nation with the power to set boundaries and laws on our land to protect and serve our people. This includes restricting those who are allowed and not allowed in our meetings.

Yesterday, a reporter from the Post and Courier attended a meeting without identifying herself and after receiving a message denying her access to the meeting in previous correspondence from the Nation. Maggie Brown Driggers’ actions make clear that she was aware that this meeting was not open to uninvited non-Catawbas, and despite this she chose to ignore our boundaries.

Once discovered, she was asked to leave the meeting and arrested for trespassing. Due to the intentional disrespect she demonstrated, the General Council of the Catawba Nation voted to ban Maggie Brown Driggers from Tribal lands.

We have held many General Council meetings over many years and have never had a media organization ignore our laws and violate our sovereignty in such a way. We welcome media organizations who follow our procedures, as well as respect our laws and our community. The Nation hopes to work on improving our relationship with the Post and Courier in the future.

We also note that Maggie Brown Driggers reported on her arrest last night without mentioning the myriad of ways she knew that she was not invited to our General Council meeting and was violating our laws. Accuracy, truth, and accountability are bedrock principles of journalism, and we are disappointed that Mrs. Brown Driggers does not feel those principals apply to her own actions.