Tribal Self-Reliance: A Success Story of Independence and Growth

education_chalkboard-150x150The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) requires that funds from gaming must be used to promote economic development, self-sufficiency and strengthen tribal government. For the past ten years, gaming tribes are also sharing revenue with non-gaming tribes who are using these funds to support their governments.


Nephi Craig, executive chef of the fine-dining restaurant at the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s Sunrise Park Resort Hotel, plans indigenous food-and-culture conference at the resort, near Greer, Arizona

An all-Apache team prepares the food at Sunrise Mountain Resort’s fine-dining restaurant. (By Mike Naseyoma) (Photo Courtesy Indian Country Today)

“Nephi Craig, executive chef of the fine-dining restaurant at the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s Sunrise Park Resort Hotel, has put out a call for proposals for an early-November indigenous food-and-culture conference at the resort, near Greer, Arizona. The setting is the glorious high-desert mountains of northern Arizona, with vast, gaping valleys and soaring mountains dotted with juniper and cacti. The resort is billed as a “recreational paradise,” offering winter sports including skiing, snowboarding and sledding, as well as summer activities like camping, archery, biking, hiking and more.

Craig, who is White Mountain Apache and Navajo, with classical-French training and worldwide experience as a chef, hopes to attract a range of community members and outside folks interested in exploring many aspects and applications of Native foodways. “Native foods are not a trend,” Craig says. “They are a way to recover our communities and decolonize ourselves.””

Read more at Indian Country Today

Tohono O’odham Nation tackles diabetes with tribal foods

Arizona’s Tohono Nation hopes return to indigenous foods can help stop skyrocketing diabetes disease rate .

“The diabetes epidemic so prevalent in Native Americans can lead to further complications and health issues. One tribe, Tohono O’odham Nation, has the highest rates of diabetes in the nation, but they are tackling this problem head on. Part of their solution is returning to their traditional diet, which included cactus, beans, dark greens, corn and grains. Watch the video to learn about their fight against diabetes.”

Read more at Mother Nature Network

7Supai-Camp-Like-New1-300x225Gaming dollars have been very important for the remote, non-gaming Havasupai Tribe, based at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, to help improve poor, substandard housing conditions.

“The cost of living here is extreme and the logistics of getting supplies and materials here and hauling out byproducts is both complicated and expensive,” noted Eva Kissoon, Havasupai Tribe Housing Coordinator.

2Supai-Village-Elder-Like-New-Home-300x225However, the tribe has been able to leverage gaming dollars to rehab the small, 366 square feet cabins at Supai Camp in the Grand Canyon National Park. The tribe increased the size of the housing units to 699 square feet and added a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen with cabinets.

Every year the tribe also uses shared gaming monies to rehabilitate 4 homes, commonly one room or one bedroom structures, at Supai Village. Through years of flooding and overcrowded conditions, foundations shifted causing unstable and drooping floors. “Rehabilitating a home makes families proud to live in a “like new” home. This is the mission of Tribal Housing, to make the lives of our community members a little better,” added Kissoon.

2004: For the first time in its history, the San Carlos Apache Tribe was able to provide financial aid for students seeking higher education for two years running.  The goal is to increase the level of support to be commensurate with the increase in college tuition.

2004: Tohono O’odham Community College opened this year funded by a $21 million grant from gaming revenues.  The two-year college is located in Sells, Arizona and is open to all individuals including those who are not members of the Nation.  The college was accredited in 2005 and has plans to relocate in the future to a new campus near Sells.


2007: The Gila River Community Council dedicated $200,000,000 in tribal funds to construct and rehabilitate homes throughout the Community over a three-year period.  In 2008, 201 homes were in various stages of construction-to-completion.  In 2009, the program added 575 homes in the planning and construction phase.

jobs_casinoThe Cocopah Indian Tribe opened the Cocopah Resort & Conference Center in December with more than 4000 square feet of meeting and banquet space.

2008: The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development presented one of just five High Honors awards to the Archie Hendricks, Sr. Skilled Nursing Facility and the Tohono O’odham Hospice.  Members of the Nation residing in the facility can observe their culture and traditions, receive spiritual care by traditional healers and medicine persons, eat traditional foods and communicate in the O’odham language.  Two-thirds of the operating budget was provided through gaming revenues.


tribal_reliance_outdoors2008: Because of gaming transfer revenues, the non-gaming Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians can supply backpacks and school supplies to all its students and the Tribe now was able to support five college students.  The Tribe expanded its language program to teach adults the Yuman language and gaming transfer funds also support the Kaibab-Paiute Park and Library which added high-speed, on-line capability.  The Tribe also expanded its environmental youth program which it offers in conjunction with the National Park Service to teach science, math, art, writing and language, and address issues, like water, from a cultural as well as science perspective.

tribal_reliance_wellness2008: The Pascua Yaqui Tribe broke ground for a Wellness Center that included a 2,400 square foot fitness rooms, updated gymnasium and a 75-foot, eight-lane swimming pool.

By 2008, the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation had built 250 new homes for tribal members.

The budget of the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians has more than tripled with gaming transfer revenues. The tribe now offers a competitive wage to employees, funds social programs, scholarships and supports its park, library and tribal IT department .  The Tribe has expanded its environmental and cultural programs including an extensive outdoor environmental youth camp.

Money from the Fort McDowell casino is used in part to support the Fort McDowell Tribal Farm, which grows alfalfa and pecans on 2000 acres. Read more.

2009: A $43 million medical pavilion to serve the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community opened to provide patient care and services. The Pima Medical Pavilion was the first medical complex in the SRPMIC and offers surgery, diagnostics, imaging, medical suites and retail space.

2011: Ariz. tribe votes to take over Skywalk management (CBS NEWS)

“A northwestern Arizona tribe has voted to take over management of the Grand Canyon Skywalk from the Las Vegas developer who built it.

“David Jin partnered with the Hualapai Tribe to build the horseshoe-shaped glass bridge that juts out from the Grand Canyon on the reservation. But the two sides have been locked in a contract dispute for the past year over revenue shares and an incomplete visitor center.”

article-img-214x214-70-year-old-Roberta-Torres-graduates-from-University-of-Phoenix22012: 70-year-old Roberta Torres, from the San Carlos Torres Apache Tribe, graduates from University of Phoenix.


2012: Cocopah Police Chief Attends Training

Longtime law enforcement and Cocopah Tribal Police Chief James Spurgeon was recently chosen as one of 30 law enforcement executives across the United States to attend the 9th Leading by Legacy training hosted by The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP).

Read more: Indian Country Today

In just seven years, the Pascua Yaqui Casino Del Sol in Tucson has increased its employment of tribal members from 50% of its staff to over 80%, including 14 in management positions, by utilizing an innovative training program called STEP (Supporting Tribal Employment Partnership). The program provides on-the-job training, on-site workshops, classes at a local community college, personalized coaching and shadowing of department heads for tribal members.

Read more: Indian Country Today