Nation’s largest tribe keeps casinos out

 

Note: in the print edition of this issue, this article appears as a sidebar to  another news article, "Tiny tribe bets its community on casino."

The Navajo Nation may have found a way to get gambling profits without gambling’s pitfalls.

Last November, Arizona voters narrowly approved Proposition 202, and opened a new way for tribes—including those without casinos—to profit from gaming. Under the new rule, participating tribes are given “slot allotments” that represent the maximum number of slot machines they could legally operate under state law. Tribes like the Navajo Nation and the Havasupai, which don’t have casinos, can lease their allotments to tribes that do.

Although Navajos have repeatedly voted down referendums to allow gaming on their reservation, they may welcome revenue from leasing slot allotments, says Deana Jackson, press officer for newly elected Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley. The Navajos can lease up to 1,400 allotments, which could earn them millions of dollars.

As of April, the nation was negotiating a slot-allotment lease with an undisclosed tribe. The proceeds, says Jackson, would help fulfill basic Navajo needs, like water, power and college scholarships. The tribal council should vote on this particular lease by July.

Althomas Spencer of the Navajo Nation Museum says he expects that the prospect of leasing allotments will generate heated debate, once it becomes more widely known. So far, though, “It really is not out there yet,” he says.

The Navajo’s long-standing aversion to reservation casinos may be rooted in an old story. According to tribal teachings, Nahoolbiihii — “the one who will win you” — once came among the people, tempting them to gamble with him. Soon, the people had gambled away everything, even themselves and their families, and under Nahoolbiihii’s control, they were forced to build what is now called Chaco Canyon.

In the story, a young boy called Naa hoo’ di dahi — “the impoverished one” — was sent from the Holy People. With a knack for numbers, he successfully gambled back the most vital things — stories, kinship systems, land, culture. Nahoolbiihii voluntarily exiled himself, but threatened to return one day. That threat still lingers in the minds of Navajo elders and storytellers.

High Country News Classifieds
  • WATERSHED RESTORATION DIRECTOR
    $58k-$70k + benefits to oversee watershed restoration projects that fulfill our strategic goals across urban and rural areas within the bi-national Santa Cruz and San...
  • CUSTOMER SERVICE ASSISTANT - (PART-TIME)
    High Country News, an award-winning media organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a part-time Customer Service Assistant, based at...
  • OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
    We are a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education, innovation, and collaboration....
  • COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    Come work alongside everyday Montanans to project our clean air, water, and build thriving communities! Competitive salary, health insurance, pension, generous vacation time and sabbatical....
  • CAMPAIGN MANAGER
    Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA), a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to protecting, defending and restoring Oregon's high desert, seeks a Campaign Manager to works as...
  • HECHO DEPUTY DIRECTOR
    Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO) was created in 2013 to help fulfill our duty to conserve and protect our public lands for...
  • REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE, COLUMBIA CASCADES
    The Regional Representative serves as PCTA's primary staff on the ground along the trail working closely with staff, volunteers, and nonprofit and agency partners. This...
  • FINANCE AND OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
    The Montana Land Reliance (MLR) seeks a full-time Finance and Operations Director to manage the internal functions of MLR and its nonprofit affiliates. Key areas...
  • DIRECTOR OF CONSERVATION
    The Nature Conservancy is recruiting for a Director of Conservation. Provides strategic leadership and support for all of the Conservancy's conservation work in Arizona. The...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Amargosa Conservancy (AC), a conservation nonprofit dedicated to standing up for water and biodiversity in the Death Valley region, seeks an executive director to...
  • BIG BASIN SENIOR PROJECT PLANNER - CLIMATE ADAPTATION & RESILIENCE
    Parks California Big Basin Senior Project Planner - Climate Adaptation & Resilience ORGANIZATION BACKGROUND Parks California is a new organization working to ensure that our...
  • SCIENCE PROJECT MANAGER
    About Long Live the Kings (LLTK) Our mission is to restore wild salmon and steelhead and support sustainable fishing in the Pacific Northwest. Since 1986,...
  • HUMAN RESOURCES GENERALIST
    Honor the Earth is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate based on identity. Indigenous people, people of color, Two-Spirit or LGBTQA+ people,...
  • NEW BOOK BY AWARD-WINNING WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST, BRUCE SMITH
    In a perilous place at the roof of the world, an orphaned mountain goat is rescued from certain death by a mysterious raven.This middle-grade novel,...
  • MOUNTAIN LOTS FOR SALE
    Multiple lots in gated community only 5 miles from Great Sand Dunes National Park. Seasonal flowing streams. Year round road maintenance.
  • RURAL ACREAGE OUTSIDE SILVER CITY, NM
    Country living just minutes from town! 20 acres with great views makes a perfect spot for your custom home. Nice oaks and juniper. Cassie Carver,...
  • A FIVE STAR FOREST SETTING WITH SECLUSION AND SEPARATENESS
    This home is for a discerning buyer in search of a forest setting of premier seclusion & separateness. Surrounded on all sides by USFS land...
  • CARPENTER WANTED
    CARPENTER WANTED. Come to Ketchikan and check out the Rainforest on the coast, HIke the shorelines, hug the big trees, watch deer in the muskeg...
  • CAUCASIAN OVCHARKA PUPPIES
    Strong loyal companions. Ready to protect your family and property. Proven against wolves and grizzlies. Imported bloodlines. Well socialized.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!