Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 22° Partly Cloudy
News >  Business

Officials reviewing tribal casino rules

Kalispels oppose quicker process for nonreservation sites

Plans by the Spokane Tribe of Indians to build a casino in Airway Heights ignited criticism from another area tribe during a closed-door Thursday meeting held by a federal agency that oversees Indian gaming.

The Thursday afternoon “consultation” was organized by the Office of Indian Gaming, a division of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The group is hosting six meetings between now and Nov. 18 to review rules that decide when tribes can build casinos on nonreservation land.

The Spokane Tribe hopes to build a 2.2-million-square-foot casino complex in Airway Heights on land that’s not part of its reservation. A change by the Office of Indian Gaming on its current rules would simplify that process.

If approved, the Spokane Tribe casino would be several miles from the Northern Quest Resort and Casino, opened by the Kalispel Tribe in 2000.

The meeting, held on Spokane’s West Plains, was not open to the public or the media.

But after the session, a Kalispel council member said his tribe’s concern is that changes approved by the Department of the Interior over non-reservation gaming could have impacts statewide and nationwide.

Nick Pierre, a Kalispel business councilman, said the Kalispels don’t oppose the right of the Spokane Tribe to open casinos. The tribe however sees this specific effort as an attempt to short-cut the approval process, he said.

The result, he noted, would eliminate the detailed, lengthy process whereby states and local communities review such proposals. If the Spokane Tribe’s casino is approved in short order, Washington officials would have to allow other state tribes to do the same, he said.

An attempt to get comment from Spokane Tribe officials was unsuccessful.

The Kalispels have reservation land in Usk, about 50 miles north of Spokane and followed a rigorous process before getting approval to open the Northern Quest casino, Pierre said.

The Spokane Tribe loudly opposed the effort to open Northern Quest. Pierre said the Kalispel Tribe’s opposition has nothing to do with that history.

“This is not a feud. This is about playing by the rules,” Pierre said.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.