Thursday, February 4, 2010
Thoughts on Indian gaming
There were a few circumstances that fell into place to make it easier for gaming to come to our reservation. In the early 1990s, the State of Kansas built a new $55 million dollar four lane highway that went right by our reservation. This made it only a 15-minute drive from Topeka, Kansas with a population base of 150,000 people and a 1.5 -hour drive from Kansas City, which has a population of over a million people.
In 1995, the State of Kansas approved a Tribal/State Compact but only after years of litigation that was costly to both sides. Fortunately for us, it passed without a sunset provision. The good thing is that we don’t have to renegotiate the terms every few years and give the state a cut of the action, as is the case with many tribes.
To give a few examples of this transformation consider these improvements: We have concentrated on improving our infrastructure. We have poured millions of dollars into our people with jobs and services, buildings, roads, housing and park development. Today, we have a new government center, clinic, a new senior citizen center, Boys and Girls Club, Police Station, water treatment plant, a new Fire Station and state of the art equipment. In addition, we funded a new addition to our Childcare center. Gaming money has made it possible for more tribal members to attend the college of their choice. It’s an investment that will pay dividends in the future.
I think how a tribal member who hasn’t been here for years would be amazed at the total transformation of the reservation and it is a direct result of the gaming revenues we have coming in today. We know it won’t last forever but we can show positive change to what once was a poverty-stricken area. My closing advice is for all tribes to tell their economic success stories because no one else can convey the true positive impact gaming has had in Indian Country.