Dramatic growth has occurred in the Eastern Shawnee Tribe since 1984 when the tribe opened its first Bingo Hall.
We weren’t the first to have tribal gaming as the Seneca Cayuga and the Quapaws led the way. Our next gaming construction occurred in 1998 when we built a Travel Plaza which included a gaming center on Highway 10C.
Both were quite successful, so we added on to the Bingo Hall three times and outgrew the Travel Center, building a separate casino there known as the Outpost. Next came Bordertown Casino and Bingo in 2003, the largest casino in Ottawa County at that time. Within just a few years, we knew we needed a hotel but we were landlocked and began looking to Highway 60.
In 2012, we opened the first phase of Indigo Sky, a casino with about 1,300 machines, poker, table games, off track betting, bingo, fine dining, a 117-room hotel and a swimming pool. Three years later, in 2015, we repurposed our Bordertown Casino, creating a country western flair by adding a large entertainment area for bands and dancing.
The unique aspect is an indoor arena complete with bucking bulls, cowboys, clowns, horses and cheering fans. We had plans for a second tower at Indigo Sky from the beginning, we just didn’t announce them. Construction of more than 125 rooms, a 600-seat event center, additional space in the restaurant, kitchen and more conference rooms opened in early fall of 2017.
Casino revenue is responsible for so many good things. I describe our tribe as a progressive tribe but we want to be good fiscal stewards. We believe in taking care of our tribal citizens. At least 50 percent of our profits go to assisting them. Our elders receive health assistance, insurance assistance, and tax assistance. All receive help with their utilities.
We provide clothing for our school age children, special funds for junior and senior year school expenses, dental care, vision coverage, burial assistance. We are especially proud of the emphasis we place on education. We provide up to $4,500 per semester for our people to go to college or obtain vocational training.
That means tribal citizens everywhere and we have tribal members living in all 50 states. We also provide grade incentives to students beginning in the sixth grade and continuing throughout their educational career.
We reward them each time they complete a vocational training program or a degree, be it high school, GED, Associates, Bachelors, Masters, or Doctorate. Once they begin graduate school, the amount is increased, and if they enter law school or medical school, the scholarship increases to 8,000 per semester.
Education is the route to improving lives and we want our tribal members to have that opportunity.