Monthly Archives: December 2013

More Housing or More Job Creation.

The Tribal Council is considering where to allocate 1.3 million and there are two ideas that are at the fore front of the economic investment. The question that needs to be answered is who will benefit most from either investment.

One plan is build a high end spa/massage parlor located in motel operations. This would create a new draw for the customer base but we have to be certain this is where our marketing plan is targeted towards. Presently the plan is centered around busing programs that are designed to break even. Would these patrons really have the additional revenue needed to pay for a 65 dollar back rub?
The other thought is to reinvest in our current housing program and build more housing for tribal members. By following this course of action jobs, housing and population growth needed to sustain gaming operations would be realized and the positive effects it would have for the local economy.
Which idea do you like best, answer the poll provided on this blog.

Education vs. Experience

Working in government gives a person a whole new perspective on how the leadership values one thing over another, but in the next instance will change its values to retain power.

A lot of us started work in Hannahville by showing up to submit your name into a hat for jobs available that evening. Sometimes you got lucky, sometimes you didn’t. We made about 35 dollars a night with decent tips if the right customer won or you were just quicker to get to the person claiming bingo!

It really doesn’t seem that long ago but in order to work there you pretty much had to be living on the reservation. That was just the way things were then.

Our leadership decided to grow our business and add table games to the selection. The majority of our leadership had little higher education and no table gaming experience but had the entrepreneurial spirit needed to succeed and learn how to operate these games to create additional jobs. Dealing Blackjack, Poker and Craps took those of us fortunate enough to work there to a whole new income level we were not accustomed to earning. It was a great time because we all were learning together and it did bring some sense of belonging and unity.

Then the revenue really hit us when we plugged in the slot machines. It was a pretty chaotic time. There were little to no real written operating procedures but it did not seem to matter because there was so much revenue. We finally learned and started to implement some operational guidelines for ourselves. The funniest thing happened then, someone decided we couldn’t perform unless we had the proper education.

I am all for education but when you start to eliminate experience through policy to promote social change the intent of providing jobs first is lost to those for which it was intended.

We can never forget the experience and knowledge of our people. We must find a better way to bring out that experience and knowledge with less demands on those for which the intent was meant for in the first place.

2013 Total Casino Employment vs Tribal Member Employment

In 2013 there were approximately 750 jobs filled in the casino of those 94 are filled by tribal members.

This means that about 12.5% of the total casino workforce is filled by tribal members.

2012 Casino Employment of Tribal Members

2012 Totals of Tribal Member Employment

  • 89 employed
  • 2 General Management
  • 46 full-time
  • 36 part-time
  • 5 seasonal
26 members applied
29 members were hired
26 members were separated from employment

Compact Negotiations-Revenue Sharing with the State of Michigan

I was reading an article on Compact Negotiations with the State of Michigan and how they are seeking a revenue sharing plan with the 6 remaining tribes. I was honored to represent Hannahville Indian Community (Pottawatomie) during our first agreement with the State of Michigan. Although I still disagree with the concept of the Federal Government telling tribes who they must make agreements with on any issue it was an interesting process to be involved with and I am thankful for the engaging opportunity.

It is sad to know that these tribes must come with a revenue-sharing plan with an outside body that has no ownership interest what so ever and we still have not conceded any real profit sharing with the members for which it was intended.

Our reservation distributes to each member 250 per month, irregardless of revenue. This equates to roughly 2.8 million annually for the membership.

On the other hand our current compact requires a mandatory 2%  revenue- share distribution to local units of government (which is now done through the tribe, but the state wants to take over this function in its initial proposal). This number fluctuates somewhat but generally is around 1.3 million. I was always agreeable with giving back to the local units purely because the largest portion of our revenue is generated from that population base.

Our initial compact agreement with the state was 2% to local government units and 8% to the State or any corporation in designated to receive those funds. The state soon there after violated the compact and the 7 tribes were no longer obligated to pay the 8%.

Now that the compact has matured we (now 6 tribes) must now renegotiate with the State for new terms. Although it is unclear whether the compact expires or not the state has already proposed a 4-8 % revenue share plan with the remaining tribes.

Here is the rub for me as an individual tribal member. If the State is going to receive a fixed percentage of revenue then why not the member also. Shouldn’t we be entitled to at least 10% of our own revenue. When are we going to be included in this sharing plan?

Some of my own leadership is under the assumption that we have to earn these payments and are “lucky” to get what we are getting. I disagree with that thinking. I was fortunate enough to get involved with this process from the beginning and that is not what our elders had in mind. The prevailing attitude was to pay our members, especially those who lived within the boundaries of the reservation.

I believe before we negotiate any further with the state of Michigan or promise another dollar to an outside force that put no blood, sweat or tears into our businesses that we think of ourselves first for a change and give a guaranteed percentage of the revenue to the member for which it was intended. And I ¬†am not referring to another “social program” meant to benefit the member but ends up as payroll and retirement for those it was not intended.