Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Condition. Discussion »
Last week's presentation of two checks by the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians - commonly referred to as the Gun Lake Tribe - was a time to celebrate. The checks were given from proceeds from the Gun Lake Casino.
Representatives from the State of Michigan, Allegan County, school district and various surrounding townships joined the celebration at the Wayland Township Hall.
The checks were given as a fulfillment of the gaming compact the Gun Lake Tribe made with the State of Michigan, which specifies 8-12 percent of profits contribution from electronic games would go to the state and another 2.5 percent contribution to a local revenue sharing board.
The Gun Lake Casino opened on February 10, 2011. The checks were for the time period between the opening of the casino and March 31, 2011. In essence, less than two full months of profit was paid out to the state and local revenue sharing board. Ongoing payments will be made bi-annually, sixty days after March 31 and September 30 of each year.
"I estimated only $200,000 for the first check," said an ecstatic Roger VanVolkinburg, supervisor of Wayland Township. He was happy, as were other local officials at the presentation. So, the check was two-and-half times what was anticipated.
The Native News Network does not typically write articles about Indian casino gaming on an on-going basis, but felt this story was deserving of coverage because of the decade-plus fight the Gun Lake Tribe endured.
Non-Indians in West Michigan fought the Gun Lake Tribe feverishly with lawsuit after lawsuit. After the rejection by the US Supreme Court not to even hear the case, the Gun Lake Tribe moved forward to open the casino. These legal actions literally cost the Gun Lake Tribe millions of dollars in lost revenue.
The irony of the presentation last week was the people of West Michigan were constantly lied to concerning American Indian gaming. Some of the most powerful business people in Grand Rapids, about a 25-minute drive north, kept the constant falsehood going: "American Indians don't pay taxes."
Whether you call the money stipulated in a gaming compact between a tribe and a state a tax or a contribution, it matters little. It is really schematics. The result is it is stipulated and there is hard cash involved. The Gun Lake Tribe still paid its share.
The Gun Lake Tribe's officials present at last week's presentation all had smiles on their faces. They did not send the check or slip into a governmental building begrudgingly and unwillingly.
The point is American Indians tribal officials paid out the money as required. The only negative was Chairman D.K. Sprague - who has presided over the many battles the Tribe has endured - was not present to present the check. He tended to more important business of dealing with the death of his brother, Reverend Joseph Sprague, who served American Indians 60 years in his ministry.
posted June 7, 2011 12:39 pm et
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don't pay any attention to grand rapids
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don't pay any attention to grand rapids or the negative people. the tribe deserves everything that they get and more. i'm so proud of you and the tribe...
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