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Regional News

Spokane Tribal Casino Just Needs Governor's Go Ahead

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Spokane Tribe
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Spokane Tribe

The Spokane Tribe Economic Project (STEP) has received the approval it has been waiting for from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. That gives federal approval to the tribe to build a casino-resort near Airway Heights.

(updated 6/16/15 3:50pm)

The U.S. Department of the Interior sent Gov. Jay Inslee a letter Monday saying it believes the project “is in the best interests of the Spokane Tribe and not detrimental to the surrounding community.” Inslee now must decide if the decision will go forward. 

Spokane tribal member and former Spokane Tribe Economic Project coordinator Jamie Sijohn says the Spokane Tribe Economic Project (STEP) will bring more than 5,000 construction related and permanent jobs to the area.

Sijohn: “The fact that STEP will bring jobs and economic boost to the region ,but it will also bring economic stability to tribal programs, for housing and education, that’s where those dollars are going. 

But there are critics of the plan. Spokane county commissioner Todd Mielke has said he is worried the casino could hamper training missions at nearly Fairchild Air force base. In a press release Tuesday, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers says the casino project presents “tremendous threat” to Fairchild and its future.

Jamie Sijohn says Fairchild officials weighed in on the original Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and offered no objections to the project.

Sijohn: “Fairchild had their say on the federal level through the EIS, and that’s what the Interior department weighed in with their deciding factor in giving final approval to the tribe.”

The casino would be the second on the West Plains near Airway Heights. The Kalispel Tribe operates Northern Quest Casino and has opposed the Spokanes’ proposal.

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