Carol Evans: Spokane Tribe deserves off-reservation casino too

A banner touting the benefits of the Spokane Tribe's proposed off-reservation casino in Airway Heights, Washington. Photo from STEP / Facebook

Carol Evans, the chairwoman of the Spokane Tribe, calls on Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) to approve the proposed off-reservation casino in Airway Heights:
Like other tribal governments, we augment our historic revenues with casinos. But in 1998, the federal government and then-Gov. Gary Locke approved a tribe headquartered in the northeast corner of the state, the Kalispels, to open a casino 10 minutes from downtown Spokane. We objected to allowing another tribe’s casino in the heart of our ancestral homelands, and we pointed out that our two remote casinos would never recover, which would prompt us to open a casino closer to metropolitan Spokane.

That day may be almost here. In June, the Department of the Interior approved our privately funded $400 million project, and sent it to the governor’s office for his agreement.

In the 10 years of process and countless studies, we have learned many facts, but the most important is this: By approving the Spokane Tribe Economic Project (STEP), Gov. Jay Inslee has the opportunity to bring fairness to the West Plains of Spokane County, and to set a new off-reservation gambling policy for the state that is anchored in a proper respect for tribal ancestral territory.

The Kalispel casino represents the only instance in this state or nationally in which a distant tribe was allowed to conduct gambling in the heart of another tribes’ federally adjudicated, exclusive ancestral territory.

As Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn noted when approving STEP, it would be “deeply ironic to allow the Kalispel Tribe to develop a casino within the Spokane Tribe’s aboriginal area, while denying the Spokane Tribe the opportunity to use its own aboriginal lands for the same purpose.”

Get the Story:
Carol Evans: Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino would right a wrong (The Seattle Times 12/8)

Relevant Documents:
BIA Two-Part Determination Letter (June 15, 2015)

Federal Register Notice:
Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Spokane Tribe of Indians West Plains Casino and Mixed Use Project, City of Airway Heights, Spokane County, WA (February 1, 2013)

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Editorial: Washington doesn't need another off-reservation casino (07/09)
Spokane Tribe partners with Hard Rock for off-reservation casino (6/29)
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