Cheyenne and Arapaho Citizens Vote on Limited Waiver of Sovereign Immunity for Casino Expansion
Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Tribune (CATT)convened on November 23 at the Watonga Community Center in Watonga, Oklahoma. With two items on the agenda to be discussed and voted on, over 200 tribal citizens made an effort to be in attendance and make their vote count. As the meeting began, Eugene Blackbear gave the invocation. At 10:13 a.m. roll call began and the 75-member quorum was established at 10:18 a.m. With one nomination for chairman, Albert Old Crow was elected as the meeting chairman and Bobbie White Thunder was elected as secretary. Agenda items were as follows:
1. A resolution approving limited waiver of sovereign immunity and related provisions associated with a loan to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes by Bank of America, N.A. financing the expansion and renovation of the Lucky Star Casino – Watonga hotel and related facilities on Highway 270, Watonga, Oklahoma. 2. A resolution to approve the creation of the Department of Parks and Recreation.Author of agenda item one was Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes Gov. Reggie Wassana, who read the resolution in its entirety. After reading Wassana shared some of his own comments in regards to the resolution. “This is for the good of the tribe. This is for this community that doesn’t always have jobs. This is to raise revenue so we can have it for our elders and our younger kids. This isn’t for me, this isn’t for any individual, it’s for the growth of the tribe and until we start playing with the big boys, as everybody says, with the Chickasaws and Choctaws and everybody else, then we need to start being more aggressive and get to doing something instead of just waiting for it,” Wassana said.
Wassana continued to say that if the tribes created some type of credibility in the banking world and institutions, the tribes can get loans for more expansions in the future. “We can go out and get loans a lot better and loans aren’t easy to get, you have to remember where we came from as a tribe, we’re trying to put ourselves out there as credible to get loans and that’s what we’re doing but this is just one part of the expansions that we’d like to do,” Wassana said who also said the loan amount from Bank of America, N.A. would be for $15 million. With many tribal citizens voicing their opinions in favor of the expansion, a few raised concerns and opposition to the resolution. “What about contractors and filing suit, there’s concerns that I have. Have there been valued engineering reports done, making sure we get what we paid for with our money? There’s a lot of things that I know that aren’t being stressed for the tribe, it’s not that I’m against it, it’s that I’m voicing the cautionary things,” Victor Orange said. Funston Whiteman also voiced his opinion over the casino expansion stating, “One of the things that we have to remember as tribal members, the more tribal members we get involved, the better decisions we have at that opportunity. I went on Facebook live out here for the out-of-district tribal members out there, wherever there at I don’t know where there at, but the more you get in our tribal government, our tribal elections, our special council meetings, the better decisions we make … whatever you vote, let’s get it out to out-of-district, in-district, lets get more people involved.” After allowing discussion, meeting Chairman Old Crow called for a vote on agenda item one. The resolution approving limited waiver of sovereign immunity and related provisions associated with a loan to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes by Bank of America, N.A. financing the expansion and renovation of the Lucky Star Casino – Watonga hotel and related facilities on Highway 270, Watonga, Oklahoma, passed with a vote of 197 yes, 47 no and 4 abstaining. Agenda item two, A resolution to approve the creation of the Department of Parks and Recreation passed with a vote of 203 yes and 0 no and 0 abstaining.