Tribal Government & News
Grand Ronde opposes Siletz casino proposal
A surprise announcement by the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians on Tuesday, May 2, proposing an inter-Tribal casino near Salem will not be supported by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, says Tribal lobbyist Justin Martin and Tribal elected officials.
Martin, who usually acts as the Tribe’s spokesperson on casino-related topics, told numerous media outlets that an inter-Tribal casino off Interstate 5 near Salem would be “devastating” to the Grand Ronde Tribe, which operates Spirit Mountain Casino, the closest Tribal gaming enterprise to the Salem market.
Instead, Martin said, the Grand Ronde Tribe supports a solution that works for all of Oregon’s Tribes and for the state, and would also help the Tribes and state compete with the Cowlitz Tribe’s new casino approximately 15 miles north of Vancouver, Wash.
The Siletz proposal states they would build a 140,000-square-foot casino and hotel near Interstate 5 on a 20-acre parcel that is trust land.
The Siletz proposal, posted at www.oregontribes.com, proposes that revenues would be split with 25 percent going to the state, 25 percent to the Siletz Tribe and 50 percent being divvied up between the other eight federally recognized Tribes in Oregon – slightly more than 6 percent per Tribe if split evenly.
Martin said the Grand Ronde Tribe supports a site in the Portland metropolitan area for an inter-Tribal casino that could combat competition from the Cowlitz.
“Salem does not work for us,” Martin told the Yamhill Valley News-Register. “It would have a devastating impact on our facility.
“If we are to do something, we would have to look at a facility that would not have an impact on Oregon’s current Tribal facilities, but benefit all Oregon Tribes and the state.”
“We had a meeting with Siletz on Monday. It was a shock to us to see that go public on Tuesday,” Chairman Reyn Leno said during the Wednesday, May 3, Tribal Council meeting. “There was no mention of it going public Monday with our meeting with Siletz nor was there any mention of a website. We like the idea of an inter-Tribal casino. We like the idea of more in Portland where it could be a lot bigger and it could be a lot better for everybody.
“Obviously, if you build one in Salem it would probably devastate Spirit Mountain, which would devastate the benefits and services we provide to our membership. In some ways, it makes Grand Ronde look like once again that we’re picking a fight with a Tribe. We’re not. That is our treaty ground. … We will adamantly oppose the casino in Salem because that would devastate us.”
Leno added that the Grand Ronde Tribe hosted an Oregon Tribes meeting at Spirit Mountain Casino on Monday, May 8, and would put together a Portland proposal for them to consider.
“You can’t do it and hurt another Tribe,” Leno said.
“The inter-Tribal concept really has to be an inclusive discussion with other Tribes,” Tribal Council Vice Chair Cheryle A. Kennedy said. “That is what we are going to be moving forward with doing. We have our staff pulling together financial information, which they may be interested in. There are a lot of barriers that have to be overcome for it really to happen.”
To follow through, the Siletz Tribe would need approval from U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, as well as Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.