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Spokane Tribe Casino honors tribe’s past with historic photos, Salish names

The Spokane Tribe Casino’s new logo depicts mirror images of two horses facing each other, representing the tribe’s past and future.

The theme of past and future is repeated in the gaming hall’s decor, which features geometric designs, wood accents and historic photographs amid the flashing lights of 450 slot machines.

Visitors to the 38,000-square-foot casino will see photos showing the Spokane Tribe’s history as people who lived in bands along the lower, middle and upper Spokane River and fished for salmon. Salish names are incorporated throughout the casino.

Whaluks is the name of the bar on the gaming floor, which features 12 table games in addition to the machines.

“It was a card game played on the ground, mostly by Indian women,” Carol Evans, chairwoman of the Spokane Tribe, said during a Friday tour of the casino.

“You had to be fast to keep up,” said David BrownEagle, the tribe’s vice chairman.

Three Peaks Kitchen and Bar refers to Mount Spokane, Cayuse Mountain and Steptoe Butte. The peaks roughly outline the tribe’s ancestral homelands of more than 3 million acres.

The restaurant and bar offers casual fine dining with a focus on local ingredients, an outdoor patio and about three dozen beers on tap.

The casino’s deli, Speelya’s Den, uses the Salish word for coyote. Besides sandwiches and salads, it will feature gourmet desserts and locally roasted coffees.

The casino celebrates its grand opening at 7 p.m. Monday. But it hosted several invitation-only events over the weekend, including an open house for members of the Spokane Tribe.

About 300 people will work at the casino, which is still hiring. Some minor exterior work remains on the building, but the project is nearly complete, BrownEagle said.

The Spokane Tribe Casino is the third gaming facility operated by the tribe. The smaller Two River and Chewelah casinos will continue to operate, Evans said.

Under a gaming compact negotiated with the state of Washington, the Spokane Tribe will donate some money from its gaming receipts to programs that address gambling addiction.

In the future, the Spokane Tribe plans to expand the casino and build other developments on the 145 acres along U.S. Highway 2.

“We are calling this phase 1A of our development,” Evans said.