Tribe mum on state-mandated donations - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Tribe mum on state-mandated donations

State requires 5 percent of gaming income to go to local education

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Posted: Saturday, August 13, 2011 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - It has been two years since the Coeur d'Alene Tribe last officially announced it was contributing a percentage of its annual net gaming income to support educational programs and schools in Idaho.

It has also been two years since public school districts throughout the region, including one that sits on the reservation, have received a contribution of funds from the tribe.

Tribe spokesman Helo Hancock told The Press by email that the tribe has made its required contributions for fiscal years 2009, 2010 and 2011 as mandated under the tribe's gaming compact with the state, but he would not reveal to whom the funds were disbursed.

Hancock advised that the tribe does not normally give out a list of the individual education donations the tribe makes.

"We chose not to do a public ceremony or announcement the last few years - partly because of complaints we got from some schools that others were getting larger donations (when they were made more public) - which is sad," Hancock wrote. The most recent contributions, made public in 2009, were from the tribe's 2008 revenues. The tribe's fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

Sovereign Indian tribes, under federal law, can offer any type of gaming that is legal in the state, provided they negotiate a compact with the state. The Coeur d'Alene Tribe's compact with Idaho was negotiated and agreed to in 1992. It was amended in 2002 with voter approval of that year's Proposition One, the Indian Gaming and Self-Reliance Act.

The 2002 amendment clarified the types of video gaming machines the tribe can offer on the reservation, limited growth of the number of machines and included a provision requiring the tribe to contribute 5 percent of its annual net gaming income to support educational programs and schools on or near the reservation.

In July 2009, the tribe announced it had handed out $1.8 million for the year to local agencies dedicated to education, and held a ceremony on the reservation celebrating the distribution. According to the tribe, that brought the total to more than $12 million the tribe had given to local agencies dedicated to education.

Tribe chairman Chief Allan spoke at the July 2009 ceremony: "When my tribal leaders had a vision of this beautiful place (the casino, resort and golf course), they wanted to make sure to put 5 percent away for the future, not for only us, but for the state of Idaho, for the kids."

The tribe's offer to donate a percentage of its gaming revenues to education in Idaho was not required by the state during gambling compact negotiations, he said.

"It was something that our tribal leaders and our elders said, 'No, this is the right thing to do,'" Allan said.

At that time, money from the casino's 2008 revenues was given to 15 school districts, including $15,000 to Coeur d'Alene, $10,000 to Post Falls, $15,000 to Lakeland, $20,000 to St. Maries and $160,000 to Plummer-Worley.

The Press checked with all those districts. None has received a contribution from the tribe since that time.

The previous year, in the spring of 2008, the tribe announced it had given $4.5 million to regional schools and community programs during a two-year period, bringing the total disbursed to $12.5 million. Local schools that benefited from the 2008 distribution included Coeur d'Alene School District, $30,000; Coeur d'Alene Tribal School, $400,000; Holy Family Catholic School, $100,000; Kootenai School District, $20,000; Lakeland School District, $30,000; Plummer-Worley School District, $320,000; Post Falls School District, $20,000; and Timberlake Senior High School, $30,000.

There are other educational programs and schools the tribe has contributed funds to in the past. Colleges and universities, the Idaho Meth Project and the Human Rights Education Institute have all been beneficiaries. The tribe has made a $1 million commitment to Coeur d'Alene's Kroc Center, and recently made a donation toward that commitment.

Since some contribution recipients are nonprofits and are under no obligation to make their donor information public, it is hard to tell if they have received funds from the tribe in recent years.

John Martin, North Idaho College's vice president for community relations and marketing, said that because all funds received from the tribe go to the NIC Foundation, a private nonprofit that keeps the names of donors and amounts donated private, they would not release any information.

"The tribe has been a generous donor to the college in the past," Martin said.

The college accepted a donation of used office furniture from the tribe in 2008. The desks, chairs and conference tables previously used at the tribe's casino in Worley were valued at $250,000, according to the tribe.

A representative at the National Indian Gaming Commission's office in Portland said the agency could not disclose any information about the tribe. They referred all inquiries to Idaho's "gaming division" - however, Idaho does not have a gaming division.

No one at the state government level could confirm for The Press whether the tribe's required education disbursements have been made. The contributions are not monitored by the Idaho Department of Education.

David Workman, spokesman for the Idaho Lottery Commission, said lottery director Jeff Anderson is the person who works with the state's tribes regarding their gaming compacts. Anderson was unavailable for comment.

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  • Alvinacharlotte posted at 6:00 am on Wed, Aug 17, 2011.

    Alvinacharlotte Posts: 10

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    Alvinacharlotte Posts: 10

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  • elkman189 posted at 10:29 pm on Sat, Aug 13, 2011.

    elkman189 Posts: 186

    I guess I would think it would be important to let people know who they are donating to.?

  • Skydiver posted at 9:10 pm on Sat, Aug 13, 2011.

    Skydiver Posts: 3

    @Crazy, nice strawman. The issue is whether the Indians have failed to pay their obligation. Try to stay on topic. You would agree Idaho's schools need the money? Why has the state been ignoring their responsiblities to make sure the schools get casino dollars?

  • crazyworld posted at 8:31 pm on Sat, Aug 13, 2011.

    crazyworld Posts: 2

    Well Skydiver......if you think "it doesn't give the tribe the right to not live up to their end of the bargain".......then what do you think about the "millionaire/billionaires who don't have to pay their share of taxes like the rest of us middle/lower class people?"


  • JoeIdaho posted at 8:04 pm on Sat, Aug 13, 2011.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    Want to see some REAL poor people? Go look no further than the Tribe.
    The Casino & folks that are running the Tribe itself are corrupt, there is a TON of racism (Indian against Caucasion) in & on the reservation that is condoned by the Tribe. I know plenty of people whose kids have a hard time in Plummer Schools, or who won't ALLOW their kids to attend those schools over the bad tratment they get BECAUSE they are white.
    The Casinos were a blessing to the Tribe, they didn't use the vast amounts of money they made effective at all; and taught their kids that white people are the enemy; when they're not.
    Been working around the area for years, never had a Native American there be anything more than indifferent; at best.
    Just speaking the truth. I agree with you; True CDA Native, on your Elders, and see plenty wrong with the whites, too; but they don't try to look down on you when you're in & around Plummmer & Worley or Tensed. Sad thing, I think the populations could seriously help each other in a myriad of ways if there was any actual compassion/s.

  • TrueCDAnative posted at 11:29 am on Sat, Aug 13, 2011.

    TrueCDAnative Posts: 2

    I am a tribal member and I am very disappointed in my own tribe. The last month we have brought back Dave Matheson -- a guy who stole from us own people. Now this. I can't believe our leaders are stealing from us. Our elders are looking down at us with shame. Where did the money go? We get less and less and we are told it goes to the schools. NOW that isn't true. We are own worst enemy. We are doing what the white man did to us to ourselves. SAD DAY.

  • Skydiver posted at 11:16 am on Sat, Aug 13, 2011.

    Skydiver Posts: 3

    This casino is required by IDAHO LAW to give its revenues to education. They HAVE failed to do so and now they're lying about it. On top of that, the state is not paying attention to this and nobody is checking to make sure the Indians are following the law.

    Spare me the "White man" stole their land. Yes, Indians got screwed. But that does not give them the right to not live up to their end of the bargain concerning casinos. Read the story again -- The TRIBE IS LYING.

  • iCitizen posted at 10:49 am on Sat, Aug 13, 2011.

    iCitizen Posts: 17

    Skydiver, you are a little judgmental don't you think?

    Isn't it possible in this economy where casinos are closing in Las Vegas, and a lot of businesses are hurting locally that the Tribe's casino may not be making a profit?

    Millions of dollars have been pumped into our schools by the Tribe. Thank you Coeur d'Alenes!

  • crazyworld posted at 10:12 am on Sat, Aug 13, 2011.

    crazyworld Posts: 2

    Personally I think both Skydiver and Greyhound should get a life. Why does the casino even have to contribute anything to the school districts? I think it's quite commendable that they do!!! The casinos have enough places to put it for their own people.......remember......the white man took away all their land? Go back and read your hisotry books!!! and PS.......I'm NOT Native American......I am caucasian!

  • Skydiver posted at 9:23 am on Sat, Aug 13, 2011.

    Skydiver Posts: 3

    This article makes me want to puke. It's obvious the Indians are lying. It's obvious the state government is looking the other way. It makes you wonder who is getting paid off?

    Casinos breed this kind of corruption. Maybe it's time to outlaw them in Idaho. I am voting for any candidate who wants Indian casinos outlawed.

  • greyhound2 posted at 7:52 am on Sat, Aug 13, 2011.

    greyhound2 Posts: 897

    To determine 5% of net gaming revenue, you need to know what the net is. As the tribe is exempt from Federal income taxes, no published reports are required, and no standard or audit procedures are required either. You can put the money in a cookie jar, under a mattress, in a coffee can in the backyard or anywhere else you might choose. Just don't leave it layng on the front seat of your car in the casino parking lot as it will surely disappear.

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