Small tribe takes giant leap for Indian gaming - Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  kavika  •  3 weeks ago  •  40 comments

By:   Stewart Huntington (Indian Country Today)

Small tribe takes giant leap for Indian gaming - Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas
San Manuel Band becomes first tribal nation to own/operate casino in Las Vegas with re-opening of Palms Resort Casino

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



San Manuel Band becomes the first tribal nation to own/operate casino in Las Vegas with the re-opening of Palms Resort Casino

  • Author: Stewart Huntington
  • Publish date: Apr 28, 2022

Cheers went up as gaming officially began at 9 p.m. Pacific Time Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at the grand re-opening of the Palms Casino Resort. The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians made history with the opening, becoming the first to own and operate a resort in Las Vegas. (Photo by Stewart Huntington for Indian Country Today)

San Manuel Band becomes the first tribal nation to own/operate casino in Las Vegas with re-opening of Palms Resort Casino

Stewart Huntington
Special to Indian Country Today

LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Some things change and some things stay the same. And sometimes both happen together.

That confluence was on display Wednesday in Las Vegas with the grand re-opening of the Palms Resort Casino, when a small California tribe became the first Native nation to own and operate a casino here — all while staying true to Indigenous values.

"The top value we have as tribal people is giving back to others and that's regardless of location whether we're on or off the reservation or here in Las Vegas," said Latisha Casas, the chairperson of the San Manuel Gaming and Hospitality Authority that operates the Palms Resort Casino for her tribe, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

"We're going to carry those values with us wherever we

The tribe bought the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas last year for $650 million. The nearly 1,400-room complex had remained closed since Nevada shuttered all resorts during the pandemic.

Fireworks explode between the Palms Resort and Casino hotel towers during the reopening of the Palms in Las Vegas Wednesday, April 27, 2022. The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians bought the property from Station Casinos in 2021. The band made history with the opening by becoming the first tribe to own and operate a casino in Las Vegas. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

On Wednesday the tribe put on a gala re-opening of the iconic Las Vegas property - a moment hailed as a milestone for Native economic development.

"It is absolutely phenomenal," said Lane Parry, Hopi, who attended the festivities with his wife, Laura Parry, who is chairwoman of the Moapa Band of Paiutes, whose ancestral homelands are in present-day Nevada. "We've gone through so many struggles in our lifetimes and our history that it is time for us to move forward in the development of this nation."

The San Manuel Band's relaunch of the Palms put it a step ahead of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which announced in December it would buy the operations of The Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for $1.075 billion and build a hotel in the shape of a guitar on the property. The deal is awaiting final approval by regulatory authorities.

The Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut in March 2021 became the first tribe to operate a casino in Las Vegas when it opened the Mohegan Sun Casino At Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. The tribe is not an owner of the operation.

Related stories:
—Tribe plans Las Vegas grand opening for Palms Casino
—San Manuel Band makes history
—Seminole's Hard Rock enterprise reaches deal to buy Mirage

The Palms celebration began with traditional songs and dances performed by a group consisting of both Paiutes and San Manuel citizens. When Casas spoke to the crowd of more than 250 people gathered to celebrate the re-opening, she told of how her great-great-grandfather Santos Manuel led fewer than 30 of his people to safety after California militia forces launched a month-long campaign to kill Native people in 1866. The band endured poverty for generations and had to rely on outsiders for help.

"We benefited from the kind heartedness of others when we had very little and appreciated all that people have done to help us from the beginning when we were just trying to survive and escape massacres," she said.

Santos Manuel, who led the remaining San Manuel Band of Mission Indians after a massacre in the 1800s, is shown here in an historic photo. (Image courtesy of California State University, San Bernadino)

The experience, she said, "built us into these resilient people. It built us into these kind-hearted, warm-hearted people that just want to give back."

Today, the tribe is in a position to give back in a big way. Its Yamaava' Resort & Casino on tribal lands in San Bernardino County outside of Los Angeles is successful enough the tribe was able to envision - and then execute - its Las Vegas expansion plan.

But none of that happened overnight, said Dr. Dreon Marquez, a San Manuel citizen and vice chairman of the tribe's gaming authority. He traced the beginnings of the path to prosperity to the mid-1980s and the wisdom of tribal leader Henry Duro.

"In 1985, he had a dream, a vision," said Marquez. "And he acted on that vision."

Marquez said that Duro encouraged the tribe to open a one-room bingo hall on its reservation back when that was illegal. The tribe wouldn't be in its strong financial situation today if it hadn't taken that risk to "challenge federal law and state law," he said.

The tribe's stance, and those of others, led to the 1987 Supreme Court decision in California V. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians that ultimately paved the way for legal Indian gaming. "We expressed the full body of our sovereignty," Marquez said.

The challenge carries additional heft when viewed from an Indigenous perspective, said Donald Fixico, Sac and Fox, who is a history professor at Arizona State University.

Merriam-Webster defines sovereignty as "supreme power" and "freedom from external control." But there is an added element of responsibility in the Indigenous understanding of the concept.

"The word sovereignty means something different to Native people," he said. "Natives believe that with sovereignty comes an obligation to take care of the land and the communities on it."

The distinction is evident in the San Manuel approach to its new operation in Las Vegas.

Before the tribe even opened its doors at the Palms, it had given away $10 million in the Las Vegas community to educational institutions and nonprofit groups, officials said. At Wednesday's opening ceremony, it gave away an additional $150,000 to three groups.

And the tribe is focused on its employees.

Before it purchased the Palms, the tribe's gaming authority toured the facility, which first opened in 2001. "When we saw the back of the house it was immediately bumped up to the top of our priority list because we wanted to completely redo it," Casas said, referring to the parts of the operation that only employees see. "When we welcomed the employees back we wanted to make sure they felt welcomed."

The casino's previous owners renovated most of the property just a few years ago but neglected the employee zones. The tribe did an overhaul for its staff.

"It's fantastic," said Kevin Glass, the Palms' vice president of hospitality who boasts more than two decades in the Las Vegas casino industry. "I've never seen anything like" the San Manuel Band's commitment to the staff.

Casas said her tribe knows no other way. "It's who we are as people," she said.

And they're already planning the next step in respecting those around the new location.

"One of the things that we are absolutely working on is a land acknowledgment," she said. "It's going to be somewhere in the building, a land acknowledgment to the Southern Paiute tribes because we are on their Indigenous lands."

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, left, shares a laugh with San Manuel Band of Mission Indians gaming officials Dr. Dreon Marquez, center, and Latisha Casas during the grand re-opening ceremonies for the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. The band bought the Palms for $650 million and on Wednesday became the first tribe to own and operate a casino in Las Vegas. (Photo by Stewart Huntington for Indian Country Today)

An informal survey by Indian Country Today found no examples of land acknowledgments elsewhere in Las Vegas, and when a reporter asked Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, who was on hand to help celebrate the re-opening of the Palms, if land acknowledgments were a good idea that could be adopted by businesses and governments in his state, he answered, "We'll respond to any request the tribe has."

Clifford Trafzer, a professor of American Indian affairs at the University of California-Riverside, wrote a history of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. The band was first chased onto Catholic missions and subjected to forced labor regimes by Spanish missionaries, and then massacred by California vigilantes.

"I don't know who had it worse," he said, comparing the San Manuel post-colonial contact to other North American Indigenous communities.

The land acknowledgment could set another example of ways the San Manuel Band is spreading its influence.

"We survived everything that came up against us and we are still here today," said Carla Rodiguez, a San Manuel citizen and secretary of the tribe's gaming and hospitality authority.

But to Rodriguez, her people's history only served to produce optimism.

The tribe's journey, she told the crowd, "proves to every tribe that it is capable of doing exactly what we do. I would say hakup a'ai, meaning very good, and nuhuun a'ai, meaning my heart is very happy."


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Kavika
Professor Principal
1  seeder  Kavika     3 weeks ago

Trolling, taunting, spamming, and off topic comments may be removed at the discretion of group mods. NT members that vote up their own comments, repeat comments, or continue to disrupt the conversation risk having all of their comments deleted. Please remember to quote the person(s) to whom you are replying to preserve continuity of this seed. Any use of the phrase "Trump Derangement Syndrome" or the TDS acronym in a comment will be deleted.

From close to extinction to extreme poverty to now a powerhouse in the gaming establishment and the first tribe to own and operate a casino in Las Vegas. It's come full circle. 

I remember very well the first bingo hall that they opened on the way to Palm Springs from LA. 

The Seminole tribe will be next as they are building a new casino in Las Vegas. 

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @1    3 weeks ago

from once an NA oasis in the desert, back to an NA oasis in the desert.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1.1.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  devangelical @1.1    3 weeks ago

Perfect description, dev.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
1.2  Trout Giggles  replied to  Kavika @1    3 weeks ago

Next time I go to Las Vegas I will visit that casino and throw some of my money away

I'm very happy for them. Way to show the white man who's boss

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1.2.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Trout Giggles @1.2    3 weeks ago

When we lived in Las Vegas we used to go there to their Indian-American restaurant, it was fabulous. Some of the best curry in the city. 

Perhaps they have an American-Indian restaurant now. (Calling the Sioux Chef).

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
1.2.2  Trout Giggles  replied to  Kavika @1.2.1    3 weeks ago
(Calling the Sioux Chef).

jrSmiley_91_smiley_image.gif Clever.

I have never liked Indian (Asian-Indian) food. Now if a Sioux Chef wants to make me some fry bread, I will sit down and enjoy it

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1.2.3  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Trout Giggles @1.2.2    3 weeks ago

Here is a link to their community involvement and sponsorships. It's in the hundreds of millions of dollars. 

https://sanmanuel-nsn.gov/community/philanthropy#:~:text=We%20partner%20with%20community%2Dbased,through%20workforce%20development%20and%20training

 

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
1.2.4  Hallux  replied to  Trout Giggles @1.2.2    3 weeks ago
I have never liked Indian (Asian-Indian) food.

That might be because 90% of the 'chefs' are from Pakistan.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.2.5  devangelical  replied to  Trout Giggles @1.2    3 weeks ago
Next time I go to Las Vegas I will visit that casino

... at least it's a scalping you'll walk away from.

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
1.2.6  CB   replied to  devangelical @1.2.5    3 weeks ago

You're a 'bad' man, devangelical!!

 
 
 
Veronica
Masters Expert
1.2.7  Veronica  replied to  Trout Giggles @1.2    3 weeks ago

I was thinking the same thing.

 
 
 
Raven Wing
Professor Expert
1.3  Raven Wing  replied to  Kavika @1    3 weeks ago

Great seed, Kavika. Thank you for sharing it. It always thrills me to see how far some of the smaller and/or Tribes that have suffered greatly over the years, manage to find such great success. 

I wish them all the luck in the world. They truly deserve it.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1.3.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Raven Wing @1.3    3 weeks ago
They truly deserve it.

After everything they have been through as a people they do, indeed deserve it. 

 
 
 
Veronica
Masters Expert
1.4  Veronica  replied to  Kavika @1    3 weeks ago
From close to extinction to extreme poverty to now a powerhouse in the gaming establishment and the first tribe to own and operate a casino in Las Vegas. It's come full circle. 

So awesome.....

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
2  JohnRussell    3 weeks ago

Good for them. 

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
3  Trout Giggles    3 weeks ago
Before the tribe even opened its doors at the Palms, it had given away $10 million in the Las Vegas community to educational institutions and nonprofit groups, officials said. At Wednesday's opening ceremony, it gave away an additional $150,000 to three groups.

That is a beautiful thing to do. And I see they are going to concentrate on their employees to make things better for them

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
3.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Trout Giggles @3    3 weeks ago

The band is a huge supporter of various charities and schools in California. They recently donated $25 million dollars to Loma Linda University and their medical center.

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
4  Hallux    3 weeks ago

They would love me, I always lose.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
4.1  devangelical  replied to  Hallux @4    3 weeks ago

join the club. how do you think they pay the electric bills in that town.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
4.2  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Hallux @4    3 weeks ago
They would love me, I always lose.

Well come on down and you'll be welcomed with open arms. jrSmiley_4_smiley_image.png

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
4.2.1  Hallux  replied to  Kavika @4.2    3 weeks ago

I'll see if the Magic Palace will front me:

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
4.2.2  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Hallux @4.2.1    3 weeks ago

I'm sure that if you tell them you're a niijii (friend) of mine it will be no problem. On the other hand, they have very long memories and still hold a grudge over that little war we fought centuries ago. Ojibwe vs Mohawk.

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
5  CB     3 weeks ago

I am well-pleased to see people going up! Excellent journey in Las Vegas! Love for everyb-o-d-y!

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
5.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  CB @5    3 weeks ago

Thanks, CB.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
6  seeder  Kavika     3 weeks ago

This is a photo of the proposed new Hard Rock Cafe/Casino in Las Vegas. The Seminole tribe will be building this one. 

hardrockguitar.jpg

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
6.1  Vic Eldred  replied to  Kavika @6    3 weeks ago

In my lifetime, that city has gone from what would now be considered small Casinos in the 70's to the mega resorts of today. I saw it all happen from the mob to Steve Wynn. I don't know if I'll ever get out there again. You see, there are two Indian run resort Casinos right near me in CT.

Congrats to the San Manuel Band.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
6.1.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Vic Eldred @6.1    3 weeks ago

My first visit to LV was in 1963, I was home on leave from the Army and over the years visited many times. We lived there from 2003 to 2012. Some great golf courses there as well and I played much more golf they doing any gambling. 

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
6.1.2  Vic Eldred  replied to  Kavika @6.1.1    3 weeks ago

You were there before me. My first visit was exactly 10 years later. The food was cheaper, the entertainment was better & cheaper and though I doubt many realized it at the time, the casinos were smaller. I was only there for the gambling. Today gambling of various kinds is legal in about 48 states. Las Vegas has transformed itself to accommodate families and provide alternatives.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
6.1.3  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Vic Eldred @6.1.2    3 weeks ago
Las Vegas has transformed itself to accommodate families and provide alternatives.

And it is a lot more expensive, no more freebies. Being a local we would get the local discount and it was still very expensive. The fact is we would go to Green Valley and Red Rock instead of the strip.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Expert
6.1.4  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Vic Eldred @6.1.2    3 weeks ago

Kavika in the earlier 69's, you in the early 70's and my first visit was 1981.  I went primarily to see Tina Turner who was just starting her comeback.  I stayed and she performed in a large, but older casino, the Riviera or Riv.  I think that it was the first of the high rise hotels on the strip.  She did a few of her old songs and covers of the Beatles, Stones, Rod Stewart etc. and I was happy to see that she was going to make it.  I saw her twice since then in huge venues but I really enjoyed seeing her in the smaller venue.  LV was also looking for a bit of a comeback then.  There had been two bad hotel fires the year before (MGM and Hilton).  Atlantic City had opened casinos a few years earlier and Reno was expanding giving Vegas some competition.  

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
6.1.5  Vic Eldred  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @6.1.4    3 weeks ago

Ahh Tina Turner live. That sounds good.


LV was also looking for a bit of a comeback then.  There had been two bad hotel fires the year before (MGM and Hilton).  Atlantic City had opened casinos a few years earlier and Reno was expanding giving Vegas some competition.  

Once casino gambling was legalized in other states the blush was off the rose. I'll never forget what Vegas was. To me it was America.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
6.1.6  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Drinker of the Wry @6.1.4    3 weeks ago

Living in LA and LV all those years I saw all of the top acts in both cities. In 1969 I was at Elvis's comeback show in Vegas. Both Elvis and LV needed a comeback and that was sure it. 

Some of the lounge acts during those years were top-notch and free. 

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
6.1.7  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @6.1.6    3 weeks ago

I liked vegas a little better [deleted]

 
 
 
Veronica
Masters Expert
6.2  Veronica  replied to  Kavika @6    3 weeks ago

So cool.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
7  seeder  Kavika     3 weeks ago

''The Palms Hotel/Casino'' at its grand reopening. 

image?url=https%3A%2F%2Fstatic.onecms.io%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2Fsites%2F28%2F2022%2F04%2F06%2Fheader-exterior-tower-nighttime-fireworks-palms-PALMSREOPEN0422.jpg&q=60

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
7.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  Kavika @7    3 weeks ago

I bet that would have a been a sight to see

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
7.1.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Trout Giggles @7.1    3 weeks ago

Some friends of mine went to it and said it was spectacular. 

 
 
 
Gsquared
Junior Principal
8  Gsquared    3 weeks ago

That is great.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
9  Perrie Halpern R.A.    3 weeks ago

This is amazing news for San Manuel Band and I am so glad that there are other tribes who will be getting a chance, too! What I am wondering about is that I thought this was supposed to happen with the old hotels in the Borcht Belt in upstate NY. Any news on that?

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
10  seeder  Kavika     3 weeks ago
What I am wondering about is that I thought this was supposed to happen with the old hotels in the Borcht Belt in upstate NY. Any news on that?

If it's not Trust Land there is no way an Indian tribe can open a casino there.

 
 

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