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Sunday, March 29, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Julyamsh event canceled

Tribe: ‘Illegal activity’ at powwow venue

Ike BlackWolf of Pendleton, Ore., participates in the horse parade at Julyamsh powwow at the Greyhound Park in Post Falls in July 2013. (Kathy Plonka)
Ike BlackWolf of Pendleton, Ore., participates in the horse parade at Julyamsh powwow at the Greyhound Park in Post Falls in July 2013. (Kathy Plonka)

The big Julyamsh powwow held annually at the Greyhound Park in Post Falls has been canceled, the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort announced Friday.

The announcement comes as four Indian tribes in Idaho press the state to outlaw electronic “instant racing” betting machines. One of the locations in the state that has the machines is the Greyhound Park and Event Center.

Heather Keen, Coeur d’Alene Tribe spokeswoman, confirmed that the cancellation was the result of the instant racing controversy.

“The decision was made to move the powwow away from Greyhound Park because the tribe cannot condone the illegal activity taking place there, nor can the tribe condone the hostile and belligerent statements made recently by the Greyhound Park manager about the tribe and Indian gaming,” she said.

Allison Moses, operations manager at the Greyhound Park, said she hadn’t been notified that the Coeur d’Alene Casino was canceling the powwow.

“It’s not anything from our end,” she said. “The Coeur d’Alene Casino runs it, so check with them.”

The cancellation was announced by the casino in a news release Friday afternoon. The release said the event is the largest outdoor powwow in the Northwest and among the largest such events in the nation, with 1,600 participants and up to 30,000 spectators over three days. It’s been held in Post Falls for 17 years.

The tribe hoped to hold the event on the Coeur d’Alene Reservation, but “the lack of space outdoors and infrastructure necessary to conduct it, are given as reasons for the cancellation,” the news release said.

“We don’t want to close the door to restoring Julyamsh in the future, but we will not be staging it this year,” casino CEO Dave Matheson said in the release.

The Coeur d’Alene Tribe is one of four tribes that have asked Idaho Gov. Butch Otter to put an end to the slot-style instant racing machines, which allow people to wager on historical horse races for as little as a quarter. The tribes say slot machines are outlawed under the Idaho Constitution.

The Kootenai County Prosecutor’s Office has asked the Post Falls Police Department to investigate Greyhound Park’s machines, which could help resolve the legal question.

Greyhound Park installed its first 10 machines last summer, with the remaining 25 arriving in December. All of the machines were tested and approved by the Idaho Racing Commission, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Idaho State Police.

Doug Okuniewicz, the park’s general manager, told The Spokesman-Review earlier this month that the tribes are trying to protect their casinos from losing revenue to other gaming operations. “I think their concerns are exclusively competitive,” he said. “There’s no basis for what they’re alleging. They want a monopoly.”

The Coeur d’Alene Tribe has asked Idaho lawmakers to consider a bill repealing the 2013 law that allowed the spread of the machines in the state.

Staff writer Jonathan Brunt contributed to this report.

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