A recent Bill in the Arizona Congress looks to keep a strong relationship between the state government and tribal governments while maintaining a balanced vision of Indian gaming in the state.
On April 9, Congress members led by Trent Franks and Ann Kirkpatrick announced the Keep the Promise Act of 2013. The announcement received applauses by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Gila River Indian Community, the Hualapai Tribe, the Cocopah Tribe, and the Pueblo of Zuni.
With the Bill’s passage, the hopes of those involved are that the commitments made to Arizona residents who voted ‘yes’ on Prop 202—the Indian Gaming Preservation and Self-Reliance Act of 2002—will be kept.
“As a tribal leader, a resident, and a voter in the state of Arizona I support this legislative effort to preserve and maintain the gaming policy made between the tribes and Arizona voters to limit the number of casinos in the Phoenix metropolitan area,” Sherry Counts, Hualapai Tribe chairwoman said in a press release.
Sixteen of the 17 Arizona tribes worked through two years of negotiations that shaped Prop 202 and led to the Keep the Promise Act showing solid government-to-government relations. The Act is receiving tribal support for its efforts in assuring that the terms of the current gaming compact remain intact.
“The Cocopah Tribe was one of the tribes that supported Prop 202 and we still believe that what we fought for what stands today,” Sherry Cordova, Cocopah Tribe chairwoman said in the release. “The Cocopah Tribe, a rural tribe, has benefited from the promises made to The State of Arizona and its people, and we continue to support the efforts being put forth today. We made a commitment and we must honor our commitment to, not only our fellow tribes, but to the people of Arizona.”
Proposition 202 was built on three elements – Indian casinos would be kept out of neighborhoods; tribes agreed to a specific casino allocation; and that a “yes” vote meant no new casinos would be built in the Phoenix metropolitan area and only one in the Tucson area for at least 23 years. Within these agreements some tribes even gave up rights to additional casinos to limit the number within the state.
“No new casinos in the Phoenix metropolitan area was a requirement made clear to all 17 tribes involved in the compact negotiations. It was a key commitment and without it there would never have been acceptance or the passage of Prop 202. Our community strongly believes that this promise must be kept,” stated Gila River Indian Community Governor Gregory Mendoza in the release.