Jayne Ilani alters the conversation for Cowlitz Tribe county

first_imgGreg Jayne, Opinion page editor For Dave Barnett, this is personal.The gorgeous inlaid map of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s ancestral lands. The light fixtures that invoke traditional Native American baskets. The business card that lists his connection to the Ilani Casino Resort near La Center by saying, simply, “Dave Barnett, Founder.”“It makes me feel like I started it, because I did,” the 56-year-old Seattle resident says, providing a tour of the pristine facility that opened in April. “I wanted that on there because it’s like raising a child — 18 years.”Barnett is slightly off-target with that analogy. Because the time since he first envisioned a Cowlitz casino in 1999 has been more like 18 years of labor contractions rather than parenthood. There was a quest to have the federal government reaffirm recognition of the tribe. And federal designation of an official reservation in the area. And the purchasing of land, the planning of construction, and a lengthy series of court battles to confirm the tribe’s right to claim reservation status.So, as Ilani attracts what officials say is nearly 10,000 customers a day, it is instructive to consider the game-changing nature of Indian casinos in the United States.Native American tribes are sovereign nations, meaning that states have limited ability to regulate or prevent Indian casinos. Since the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, tribes across the country have recognized gambling as a revenue source, and in Washington there are some 32 casinos operated by 23 tribes.last_img read more

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