Robert Jumper: Gaming leads Eastern Cherokees to bright future

Gaming machines at the Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel in Murphy, North Carolina. The tribe opened the $110 million facility, the second on the reservation, in September 2015. Photo from Facebook

Gaming has been good to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina but Robert Jumper, the editor of The Cherokee One Feather, says tribal leaders must do more to include the community in economic diversification efforts:
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Nation is known as being the biggest economic engine in western North Carolina. Since the advent of the casino, government jobs and retail has expanded at an incredible rate. The Tribe has not only put more people to work on the Boundary, we have provided jobs throughout the southeast. The power of the tribal dollar has been felt all the way to Washington, DC.

The tribal government has been able to service tribal members with better housing, healthcare, educational opportunities, child care services, elder care services, and programs for the chronically ill and dependents. We have built a new school that is the envy of the state and a hospital that visiting North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory said should be the model for hospitals across the country.

Every tribal member has the opportunity to supplement their family income with a per capita payout every six months (some reject the casino generated dollars as a matter of religious conviction). Members begin accruing monies from the “per cap” at birth. All monies are divided equally, regardless of blood quantum or age. So, an infant is rationed the same amount each payout as an elder, and a 1/16th blood quantum member will net the same as a “full blood”.

There seems to be plenty of money to go around.

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Editorial by Robert Jumper: It takes money, education and trust to make money (The Cherokee One Feather 5/20)

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