Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

Humboldt's Yurok tribe agrees to casino pact
By Ann Johnson-Stromberg/The Eureka Times-Standard 6/24/05

KLAMATH -- The Yurok Tribe is hopeful that casino negotiations with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will provide the economic and infrastructure relief their reservation needs to provide a better quality of life for their members.

This week the tribe and Schwarzenegger struck a deal to allow the Yuroks to build a casino with 350 slot machines with the agreement to share between 10 percent and 25 percent of its net winnings with the state. Acting Executive Director Geneva Wortman explained that net winnings are the revenue taken in, minus the patron paid winnings. And while 25 percent seems to be a lot, Wortman said that to reach that level, the casino would have to be making an extraordinary amount of money, somewhere in the ball park of $100 million.

While the deal has been in the works since 1998 and continues to move forward, there are still a few hurdles left to jump. Now the Tribal/State Gaming Compact will head to the Legislature and then the state Department of Interior for final approval.

"The tribal chairman thinks we will get the OK within the next couple of weeks," Wortman said. "We're excited about the progress but realize there is a lot of work left to do. But we are hopeful for the future."

The Yurok Tribe, with 4,000 members, is the largest American Indian tribe in California and is also home to extraordinary poverty and has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. Eighty percent of the Yurok Reservation is without electricity and phones and has inadequate water delivery and sewage treatment systems.

It is also home to the only one-lane highway in the state. State Highway 169 is considered the main vein of transportation for the 44-mile-long, 2-mile-wide reservation along the Klamath River basin. The two-way, one-lane road has a sheer cliff drop-off on either side. Also, the fisheries and water resources from which the tribe depends are being depleted and Wortman said they are in need of significant restoration.

Given their situation, Wortman said this casino would mean far more than jobs for reservation members. Funding for infrastructure is severely limited because the Yurok government is funded almost entirely by grants that are specifically earmarked for purposes other than repairing outdated sewer systems or new roads.

Wortman said that after the dues are paid to the state, casino profits belong to the tribe free and clear with no strings attached.

"The tribe is looking at the compact agreement as an important first step for securing economic ventures that will benefit tribal membership," she said. "We know we live in the most beautiful place in the world and want to create an economic epicenter where people can enjoy the surroundings while benefiting the tribe and surrounding community."






Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

Copyright klamathbasincrisis.org, 2005, All Rights Reserved