Welcome to the home of Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation

A Vision of Accomplishment

Summary of the Potawatomi Nation’s Journey to Gaming

The Prairie Band of Potawatomi currently resides on 77,400 acres on a 121 square mile area in Jackson County, Kansas. As of March 1, 2011 tribal membership totaled 4,780 members with over 700 living on the reservation.  A little over half of the total membership lives within state boundaries, with the remainder living across the United States and a few in Canada. 

Pow Wow dancer.
Pow Wow dancer.


The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation originated in the Great Lakes area. At this time, the Potawatomi people were an autonomous and prosperous group living off the bountiful natural resources of the Great Lakes. What they couldn't catch in the lakes or hunt in the forests, they acquired through trade with other tribes and later with the non-Indians.

After first contacts with non-Indians in 1641, land became a central issue that intensified with the expansion of the 13 colonies or "13 Fires." Non-Indians wanted the land for mines, timber and the growing number of towns, cities and ports.

During this time of advancing settlement, the Potawatomi people held no real concept of land ownership. Their beliefs taught them that land belonged to all living things alike. However, the U.S. Government, in its first treaties with the Indians, established boundaries for tribal land. In the numerous treaties that followed, known as "cession treaties," the Potawatomi agreed to sell land to the U.S. Government. Those early concessions soon led to more drastic policies.

The 1830 Removal Act was a governing policy of the United States government. The policy revolved around a dream that the Indian "problem" could be eliminated forever by persuading the eastern Indians to exchange their lands for territory west of the Mississippi.

During this forced migration west, the Potawatomi made temporary stops in Missouri's Platte Country in the mid-1830s and the Council Bluffs area of Iowa in the 1840s. The tribe controlled up to five million acres at both locations. After 1846 the tribe moved to present-day Kansas. Although the area lacked the beauty of the Great Lakes, the circumstances of removal left the tribal people little choice. At that time, the reservation was thirty square miles which included part of present-day Topeka.

Two treaties, one in 1861 and another in 1867, carved the existing reservation with a land base of 568,223 acres into portions that accommodated individual interests. The railroad received over 338,000 acres, Jesuit interests 320 acres, Baptist interests 320 acres, and the rest was divided into separate plots. The Jesuits did eventually settle approximately 2,300 acres around St. Mary's Mission.

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Reservation initially constituted 121 square miles in the northeast corner of the original reservation. The total Potawatomi holdings began at 568,223 acres in 1846 and by 1867 had decreased by 87 percent to only 77,357 acres. With the conclusion of the railroad treaties of the 1860s, the Potawatomi was expecting to live in peace. But, as so many times in the past, continued development overlooked the interests of the tribe.

In 1887 Congress passed the Dawes Act or the General Allotment Act of 1887. The basic premise of the General Allotment Act was to give each Indian a private plot of land on which to become an industrious farmer. To hasten assimilation, the law provided for the end of tribal relationships, such as land held in common. It stipulated that reservations were to be surrendered and divided into family-sized farms which would be allotted to each Indian. The supreme aim was to substitute white civilization for tribal culture.

The Potawatomi still persistently refused to recognize their allotments of land or the right of the government to make such a disposition. Persuasion consisted of withholding federal payments due the Prairie Band and giving double allotments of their land to whites, Indians from other tribes, and the residing agent's relatives. Furthermore, much of the land allotted to them was too poor to farm, and they received no financial credit and little help of any kind.

For the first part of the 20th century, the Potawatomi subsisted on farming, hunting, trapping, wage labor, and leasing of their lands. The band suffered greatly during the Great Depression and accompanying drought during the 1930’s. During this period, the tribal government acted as little more than an advisory council to the BIA superintendent, while also pursuing land claims against the U.S. Government.

The issue became almost a moot point in 1947 when a conservative Republican Congress wanted to reduce the expenditures of the federal government. Some in Congress had evaluated tribal conditions and listed some tribes that could immediately succeed without further federal help. This laid the groundwork for the hectic 1950s and many advocated the immediate government withdrawal from the Indian business.

Hence, this period became known as the Termination Period. This was another assimilation effort on the part of people in Washington -- a campaign similar to the allotment policies of the 1800s, but far more serious. Now the entire Indian system was slated for elimination.

In 1954 the House of Representatives drafted a resolution called HR 4985 with the express purpose of withdrawing federal supervision over five Indian tribes as soon as possible. This list included the Potawatomi Tribe. Potawatomi strategy to avoid termination included a grass roots campaign. It included signing and sending petitions of protest to the government. Multiple delegations from the Potawatomi Tribe went to Washington D.C. to testify in front of congressional committees and to lobby policy-makers. Thankfully the message of Potawatomi unity came across strong and clear, and Congress withdrew the Potawatomi name from the termination list

This successful opposition set a precedent for continuing tribal activism which, by the early 1970’s, saw many of the Prairie Band enmeshed in local and national Indian affairs such as the fight for state approval for hunting and fishing rights. In 1972, in response to the tribe’s activism and increasing factionalism, the BIA suspended the band’s constitution and placed it under its direct control. In 1976 the band was finally able to adopt a new constitution and elect a new tribal council.

Culturally, the Prairie Band remains rather traditional, with a small proportion of the members fluent in the native language and most members participate in either the Drum Religion or the Native American Church.

Politically, for the Potawatomi people, a new day has dawned. The introduction of gaming activities has initiated an improvement in social, educational and cultural leadership programs. As a result, the Nation is able to provide a wide range of opportunities for employment and business development while contributing to the economic viability of the region. Today, the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation can once again look optimistically to the future and to the preservation of a valued culture.


The tribes’ push into gaming did not arise out of some special federal antipoverty program for Native Americans. Rather, it represented tribes’ exercise of sovereign rights to establish their own gambling policies.

It is well documented that the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) established the jurisdictional framework that presently governs Indian gaming. But there were early battles. Before IGRA, early success of the first tribal gaming operations prompted an expansion of gaming among other tribes.

State law at the time often contained major restrictions against most types of gambling and imposed criminal penalties for violations. At the same time state law often contained certain exemptions to the prohibitions against gambling. The most frequently seen were exemptions for gaming activities engaged in by the state itself, such as lotteries, and exemptions for charitable institutions. Thus, state law often made the playing of games of chance where there were house stakes a crime but, at the same time, allowed charitable institutions to hold "casino nights" where games like craps, blackjack, roulette and poker were played as a means of fund raising.

States moved early on to attempt to severely restrict or stop tribal gaming operations and did so on the grounds that tribal gaming violated state law prohibiting a particular type of gaming. However, it had been a long standing rule of law that state law did not apply to Indian tribes or Indian people within their reservations absent express authorization by Congress. A law passed by Congress in 1953, commonly known as Public Law 280, was relied upon as the Congressional authorization for the extension of state criminal law to Indian reservations. Public Law 280 authorized some states to extend their criminal laws to Indians on reservations and also authorized state courts to hear and decide cases arising on reservations where one or both of the parties were Indian.

The Cabazon Decision

The question of whether Public Law 280 authorized the application of state laws to Indian gaming facilities was decided by the United States Supreme Court in a case between the State of California and the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians. The Court disagreed with the state's argument. The analysis of the Court turned on the fact that the civil part of Public Law 280 did not grant states jurisdiction to regulate Indian activities on reservations - it granted state courts the jurisdiction to hear and decide cases involving Indian parties. Any power the state had to regulate activities had to fall under its criminal laws that were extended to reservations in states subject to Public Law 280. Thus, any activity that was totally prohibited by state criminal laws were applicable to Indian reservations under Public Law 280. On the other hand, any activity that was allowed but regulated under state law was deemed by the Court to be civil/regulatory and not within the scope of Public Law 280 - even if violation of the regulations result in criminal sanctions.

In the context of Indian gaming, this meant that if a state generally prohibited gambling but allowed some form of gambling for charitable organizations, state lotteries or otherwise, Indian tribes could engage in those forms of gaming. Only if the state totally prohibited gaming by all persons, organizations and entities could state law be used to curtail Indian gaming. A final determination must be based upon what activities are allowed as a matter of the state's public policy.

This decision, and the expansion of Indian gaming that followed it, set the stage for the development of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Most tribes/nations wanted gaming as a mechanism to improve conditions. In 1988, Congress enacted the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) to:

  1. Provide a statutory basis for the operation of gaming by Indian tribes to promote tribal economic development, self-sufficiency, and strong tribal governments;
  2. Provide a statutory basis for the regulation of Indian gaming to ensure tribes are the primary beneficiaries;
  3. Establish Independent federal regulatory authority for Indian gaming,
    • Federal standards for Indian gaming, and
    • The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) , to meet congressional concerns regarding Indian gaming and protect such gaming as a means of generating tribal revenue;
  4. Shield gaming from organized crime and other corrupting influences; and
  5. Ensure that gaming is conducted fairly and honestly by both the operators and the players.

A USA Today editorial on May 20, 1992, said “casinos can relieve some immediate financial needs and may teach management and other skills to their employees, something to bank on for the long run. States should let tribes do for themselves what no one would do for them.”[1]

National Opposition to IGRA (Pre-1988)

On the national level, Wendell Chino, a Mescalero Apache, Roger Jourdain, a Red Lake Chippewa, and Elmer Savilla, a Quechan, were adamant in their opposition to the 1988 gaming act. What were their fears? For one, if the approval of gaming compacts rested solely in the hands of state governments, the lifelong adversaries of the Indian nations, states would then, finally, have a hammer they could hold over the heads of the sovereign nations. Cooperate with us, bend to our guidelines, or there will be no compacts: This was, and still is, the criteria used by states in approaching the signing of gaming compacts. Maine just held an election that precluded Indian gaming there. The Penobscot and Passamaquoddy Nations of Maine have been rejected as prospective Indian gaming tribes. Utah, with its strong Mormon legislature, has stood in the way of Indian gaming from day one. This is just one of the reasons Jourdain and Chino fought the IGRA. Both of these visionaries also feared that the greed for instant money would cause many tribal leaders to succumb to the pressures of state governments and sign away much of their tribal sovereignty in order to open a casino.

And they were right. In state after state, Indian nations jumped at the crumbs offered by state governments. After all was said, done and signed, many Indian nations found themselves handcuffed by regulations that took away their ability to be independent. If the state said each tribe within its boundaries could only operate 250 slot machines, regardless of the size of the tribe, tribal leaders still signed on the dotted line. As a result, some tribes with only 250 members have 250 slot machines while neighboring tribes with 20,000 members are still limited to 250 slot machines. What was legal for one tribe in one state was illegal for another tribe in a bordering state. When the newly formed Mashantucket Pequot Tribe in Connecticut opened its Foxwoods Casino, it immediately signed a compact that paid nearly $100 million annually to the state from its slot machine profits. Without consulting any of the much larger Indian nations, the Pequot effectively set a precedent that has held dire consequences for Indian nations across America.

States that had ignored the poverty on Indian reservations within their boundaries for more than 100 years suddenly saw dollar signs in Indian gaming. New Mexico, for example, a state that had been one of the strongest opponents of Indian sovereignty suddenly demanded as much as 16 percent of the profits from the casinos of the Indian nations within its boundaries. New Mexico was so anti-Indian at one time that it took them 22 years to grant citizenship to its indigenous people after the same right was granted by Congress in 1924. The same can be said about Arizona. And yet both of these states are now reaping profits from the highly successful Indian casinos within their boundaries.

Chino and Jourdain envisioned all of these things 16 years ago. They knew the Indian people, their strengths and their weaknesses. They knew that if enough pressure was brought to bear and enough dollars waved before their eyes, many tribal leaders would jump on the casino bandwagon without considering the dire consequences of the IGRA. To date, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has shunned its regulatory responsibility and has sided with state governments against the very people it is sworn to protect.

The loss of Jourdain and Chino may turn out to be the nail that is driven into the caskets of nations that long considered themselves sovereign. Their loss has too often left us with Indian leaders and nations of sheep.

Chino and Jourdain were set in their ways and believed in defending the sovereignty of all tribes and didn’t hesitate to voice their opinions on the subject at the local and national level. They refused to slow-dance in the political fast-lane. It was impressive how these old tribal leaders stood up for Indian rights.

Their opposition was based on the premise that the act violated the sovereign status of the Indian nations by making them subject to the dictates of state governments. They believed the act would greatly weaken the bargaining strength of the tribes. The Potawatomi were a case in point: A local writer from The Capital Journal named Dick Snider said in one of his columns, in the 1990s, that Indians shouldn’t have to go begging to elected state leaders in the state capitols across this land to get a compact signed.

During the debate on the gambling bill, Rep Gerry Sikorski, D-MN, posed a question that’s been posed many times in the past, a question most of his fellow lawmakers obviously didn’t ponder as they prepared to vote, “Why do we feel we can invade Indian sovereignty whenever it’s inconvenient to respect it.”[2]

In addition, the Gaming Act established a National Indian Gaming Commission [3], which further eroded tribal sovereignty in that there is another regulatory body that determines Indian activities.

The Commission has regulatory requirement for tribal gaming operations and has final approval of all Indian casino management contracts. Indian gaming has more stringent regulations and security controls than any other type of gaming in the world. Indian operations are regulated by many entities, including tribal government, state government, and the National Indian Gaming Commission with other federal agencies such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Internal Revenue Service. The Justice Department has the responsibility for prosecuting crimes, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has the responsibility for investigating criminal acts. The U. S. Treasury is responsible for monitoring cash transactions.

Some other tribal concerns nationwide over the years centered around how 25 USC § 2713 gives the National Indian Gaming Commission the power to level civil fines against a Nation of up to $25,000.00 per violation. Further, this section gives the Commission Chairman the authority to temporarily close an Indian casino for violations of this law. Additionally, 25 USC § 2715 gives the Commission: "the power to require by subpoena the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of all books, papers, and documents related to any matter under consideration or investigation." This sweeping power is, again, backed up by the power to close a casino for non-compliance. From these two provisions of the federal law alone, a Nation's sovereignty is severely waived by the operation of a casino.

As if these federal law waivers were not enough, most gambling compacts have required that the Nation agree that the state gaming officers will have "complete and unfettered" access to enter. This allows state gaming officials to examine any records they choose, relating to the casino and its financial matters. Here again, we see that by operating a casino these Nations are waiving their sovereign immunity and agreeing to give the State Police authority to enter at will.[4]

Rep. Gerry Sikorski, D-MN, said during the debate on IGRA, “Where is the problem? There have been grand claims that this is good for the Indians because it “protects them” from unscrupulous managers and organized crime. But there is no data on that at all. In fact, one tribal leader told me the only organized crime they have seen is the Bureau of Indian Affairs. And they do not need one more commission or another bureaucracy, and still more outside intervention from those people who say they know it all but know too little…Vote “no” and vote against bureaucracy, and against casino syndicates, and for respect for Indian rights.”[5]

As a matter of record, on September 27, 1988, IGRA passed in the House of Representatives by a Yea-Nay vote of 323-84 and was signed by the President on October 17, 1988 and became Public Law No: 100-497. High-stakes gambling has become a leading industry for Indian economies including the Potawatomi, but first there were a few obstacles to overcome.

Early 1990s Political Developments in Kansas

The Potawatomi Nation followed the procedures outlined in the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and tried to bargain in “good faith” [6] in the early 1990s. Governor Joan Finney, an ally of the four Kansas Tribes, signed a compact in January of 1992 with the Kickapoo Tribe and the Potawatomis in May of 1992, but the Secretary of the Interior refused to rule on the compacts because of a state lawsuit Attorney General Bob Stephan filed against Finney over the issue. Stephan’s contention was that Finney lacked legislative approval.[7]

Locally, Dick Snider of The Capital Journal, who had a knack for putting life into perspective, called the Finney-Stephan turf battle a political train-wreck waiting to happen and “a problem that really wasn’t about who was right or wrong, but that one is a Democrat and the other is a Republican. Right and wrong can be worked out, but political differences can’t, or at least usually aren’t.” Snider said this situation had all the flavor of a Marx Brothers movie, and you almost expected Stephen to add, as Groucho would, that he’ll get illegal casino operators “12 years in Leavenworth, or 11 years in Twelveworth, or 5 to 10 in Woolworth.” He concluded by saying that “Finney has promised the Indians peace and prosperity, but Stephan is threatening war unless they get back to the reservation and behave.”[8]

Since this scenario was being repeated in Arizona, Connecticut and Iowa, Senator Daniel Inouye D-Hawaii, in 1992, threatened to strip states of authority over Indian gaming if they didn’t enter compacts with the tribes that wanted casinos.[9]

All in all, a civil approach didn’t work in Topeka, Kansas, so the next step was litigation. This legal fight cost both sides a tremendous amount of money. For the Nation, who had little financial resources at that time, litigation hurt immensely, but by 1995 the state grew tired of the legal fight and the cost. They too had expended huge amounts of tax payers’ money to fight a modern day Indian war.

During the 1995 legislative session a compact for each of the four tribes was approved by the Legislature and signed by Governor Bill Graves. The four compacts are identical with the exception of the name of the Tribe and the location of the reservation and their proposed casino. After the Governor signed the compacts, they were forwarded to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for federal approval. By October of 1995, all four compacts had been approved by the BIA. [10] One positive for the Nation is that the compact passed without a sunset clause, which means that the Potawatomis didn’t have to renegotiate the terms of the compact every few years.[11] For other tribes across the nation, once it comes time for renewal of their compacts, they often are at the mercy and whims of their respective states.

But, just like the old leaders from long ago had warned, the subsequent compact did impact the sovereignty of the Nation by allowing state government to have a say in Indian business. Before this compact, all of the Nation’s business was done with the Federal government, as outlined in so many treaties from long ago. Tribes maintain a unique nation-to-nation relationship with the United States government because of these treaties. One group in New York had the same concern and maintained that treaties define the relationship and dispute resolution procedures between them and the United States. The gaming compacts undermine the treaty agreements.[12]

But compacts are agreed to by two entities, and one side can’t dictate terms and conditions to the other. Generally the State of Kansas and the Potawatomi Nation have communicated clearly enough to avoid major problems, and clear communication does go a long way to avoid disputes in any setting.

The State Gaming Agency came into existence through an executive order in August 1995, issued by Governor Bill Graves. Its immediate goal was to address the need to have an organization as required under the Tribal-State Compacts. At that time, the agency was made a part of the Department of Commerce and Housing. During the 1996 legislative session, the agency was made a part of the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission (KRGC), through the passage of the Tribal Gaming Oversight Act. The act took effect on July 1, 1996, and the agency has functioned as a part of the KRGC since then.

Shortly after the Compact was approved the Potawatomi created the PBP Gaming Commission. The PBP Gaming Commission is an arm of the PBP Nation established pursuant to the PBP Law and Order Code Title XII (the “Gaming Commission) for the exclusive purpose of regulating and monitoring gaming on behalf of the Nation. The Gaming Commission conducts oversight to ensure compliance with federal, tribal, and if applicable, state laws and regulations. The Gaming Commission serves as the licensing authority for individuals employed in the gaming enterprises, administering an effective program for background investigations as part of the licensing process. The Gaming Commission also has a role in monitoring compliance with the internal controls standards for the gaming operation. In order to carry out it regulatory duties, the GC had unrestricted access to all areas of the gaming operation and to all records.

Full-Scale Gaming Arrives

Despite all these hurdles and concerns, gaming came to the Potawatomi reservation and can be viewed as a historical accident. There were a few circumstances that fell into place to make it easier for gaming to happen here. In the early 1990s, the State of Kansas built a new $55 million four-lane highway that went right by our reservation. A 70 mph speed limit made the drive from Topeka, Kansas, only 20 minutes. Topeka has a population base of 150,000 people. The improved road-way also only made it a 1.5 -hour drive from Kansas City, which has a population-base of over a million people.[14]

Another factor was the long-drawn out expensive litigation. The vote in the legislature was close, passing the House by a 63-60 vote in 1995. The tribe started a small casino shortly after this compact was approved in 1996, which gradually became the operation you see today.

Once the Tribal-State Compact was enacted, it allowed the Potawatomi to seek outside management help. In January 1997, the Tribe entered into management and development agreements with Harrah’s Kansas Casino Corporation to assist the Nation in obtaining financing for the permanent facility and furnishing technical expertise related to the operation of the facility. In addition, under the terms of the agreements, Harrah’s provided expertise for the development, design and contracting for the construction, furnishing and equipping of the facility. Harrah’s had the exclusive right to manage, operate and maintain the permanent facility and to train members and others in the operation and maintenance of the facility.

The original building cost $37 million in 1998 and later a $55 million expansion took place in 2004, which added 198 hotel rooms and a 12,000-square-foot convention center. The addition brought total hotel rooms at the property to 296. The Three Fires Steakhouse, with seating for 120, was also added. Today the casino has 876 employees and employed another 237 more at the tribal government level, generating over $34 million in wages. [15] A few short years ago, the Nation only had about 25 jobs available working at the tribal government level – from federal grants. The Nation is the largest employer in Jackson County through its casino. Prairie Band Casino & Resort is located in the southeastern quadrant of the reservation at the junction of Highway 75 and Road 150.


In a General Council meeting held on July 16, 2005, a motion was made to operate the casino under self-management with the business committee of Tribal Council and the Management Committee recommends options for the organizational structure and bylaws to be voted on in the next General Council meeting and to include Tribal casino management members on the transition team as deemed necessary by the Management Committee. The vote was 143-35 and the motion carried.

In a joint press conference, the Potawatomi and Harrah’s announced Harrah's Kansas Casino Corp., a subsidiary of Harrah's Entertainment Inc., will transfer management of the casino to the Potawatomi Nation on July 1, 2007 — six months earlier than scheduled. The casino was renamed Prairie Band Casino & Resort. A new Prairie Band Casino & Resort Players card was introduced in March 2007.

Ten Harrah's employees were replaced by the tribe's own staff. One reason for Harrah's early departure is the nation already has in place the systems necessary to successfully operate the business.[16]

As stated, the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation maintained a ten year relationship with Harrah’s Entertainment Corp. During that time period the Nation developed, owned and operated the premier gaming facility in the state of Kansas utilizing the Harrah’s name and management expertise. After a long and prosperous relationship the Nation assumed management responsibilities of the Casino from Harrah’s and the Prairie Band Casino & Resort began independent operation on July 1, 2007.

The structure and management control implemented by Harrah’s have been maintained while at the same time allowing the Nation more flexibility in exploring new opportunities for the Casino to provide the best possible experience for its patrons. Since the transition the Nation has been able to offer patron’s more opportunities to enhance their gaming experience. The ability to utilize player points directly on the machines has offered patrons a way to increase their chances to win. In addition, the Casino offers a floor-wide progressive which gives patrons a chance to win up to $15,000 on each spin. The ability to do this has come directly from transitioning to a new slot system. There have been over $1,400,000 of these additional jackpots given away from July 1, 2007 – February 29, 2008. These unique opportunities are important to set the Prairie Band Casino & Resort apart from the competition. With the upcoming probability of expanded gaming in Kansas it will be more and more important for the Prairie Band Casino & Resort to explore new and exciting options for our patrons. One thing that has not changed since the transition from Harrah’s management is that the Casino has maintained an excellent level of customer service which has been a benchmark for success since 1998.

The future of gaming is continuing to change and mold itself in new ways. By being on the forefront of new technology and advances the Prairie Band Casino & Resort has a strong foundation to explore new ideas and emerging gaming advances. Being unburdened by a large corporate structure allows the Casino to respond to patron desires on a more local level. In addition the Casino can react more quickly to competitive threats as well as taking advantage of market opportunities.


In a surprise move, state-wide gaming gained approval in the Kansas Legislature after 14 years of failed attempts.

On Monday, March 26, 2007, Kansas moved a step closer to a major increase in legal gambling as the House approved a bill that would allow top-tier casinos and slot machines at racetracks. The measure was sent to the Senate on a 64-58 vote. A close vote was expected in the Senate. The vote on Monday came after more than a dozen hours of debate on Friday and Saturday.[17]

Soon after on Thursday, March 29, 2007, Casinos and slot machines at horse and dog tracks were approved by the Senate ending a day of filibustering that gave supporters time to corral enough votes to send the bill to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

The 21-19 vote followed a dozen hours of supporters holding the floor, preventing opponents from calling for a vote they felt would kill the bill. Approval of the House-passed bill also ended 15 years of failure by gambling promoters.[18]

Earlier in the day, here is how the gambling debate played out:

The drama began before noon when a group of Senate Republicans rebelled against Senate President Steve Morris with a motion to block the controversial bill expanding gambling from moving to a House-Senate conference committee where it could remain in play during the waning days of the 2007 legislative session.

In a maneuver full of risk, gambling critics led by Sen. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia, moved to force an immediate winner-takes-all vote on the bill. "I'm trying to kill the bill," Barnett declared. "This process stinks."

Needing more time to scrounge for the 21 votes necessary to pass the gaming bill, Morris had already obtained the Senate's consent 22-18 to place the bill in a House-Senate conference committee. Morris assigned three senators to a negotiating panel, but Neufeld refused to name three representatives to a conference committee on the gaming bill.

"The intent was not to debate the bill today," Morris said. "The intent was to send this bill to conference. That was the plan." Barnett rushed into this opening by offering a motion to concur with House changes to the gambling bill approved Monday following a brutal 12-hour debate. Barnett, the Republican nominee for governor in 2006, openly welcomed defeat of his motion. If he could get 21 votes against the House version, it would end consideration of the gambling measure. He understood the move carried risk. If the Senate agreed to concur with the House, the gambling bill Barnett sought to derail would go to Sebelius. The governor has been a consistent supporter of expanded gambling and would almost certainly sign the bill.

"It's the highest stakes we've seen on this floor," said Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, a gambling foe. Advocates of the gambling bill initiated a filibuster on the Senate floor to pressure Neufeld to surrender and appoint conferees to the committee or to open the door for anti-gaming senators to concede. A handful of senators, mostly Democrats, took to the Senate floor for lengthy speeches. Some offered personal thoughts on gambling policy, and Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, read from an outdated gambling market report on Kansas.

Sen. David Wysong, R-Leawood, added to the atmosphere by reading highlights of a rule book for playing Texas Hold 'em, Blackjack and Seven Card Stud.

"Craps is one of the most exciting casino games played!" Wysong opined. An unwelcome consequence of defeating Senate Bill 66 would be the Kansas Lottery, which must be renewed by act of the Legislature. The bill would extend the popular state lottery for 15 years.[19]

Based on conventional wisdom, this should not have been the year lawmakers passed gambling. A proposal fell flat during the 2001 recession, when the state was desperate for revenue. Plans failed in the last two years, when gambling operators promised money that could have solved the state’s school finance crisis. This year, state finances are healthy and there’s no looming financial crisis.

But other factors favored gambling. Several small casinos have recently sprouted just across the Oklahoma border, drawing gamblers and their money from Kansas and spurring local efforts to pass gambling in the state. Gambling picked up a few votes in the House thanks to the recent elections, which saw the retirement or defeat of some anti-gambling lawmakers.


Something else had changed. After 14 years of attempts, gambling proponents had finally put together a bill that attracted broad support. The plan narrowly passed the House on Monday, 64-58. It was a riskier proposition in the Senate, where a gambling bill failed last year 16-20. This year, however, just enough senators who had previously not supported gambling switched sides to tip the scales.[20]

Three past House speakers were among proponents working behind the scenes this session to help advance a bill allowing four new destination casinos and racetrack slot machines. Foremost among them was former House Speaker Doug Mays, R-Topeka, who critics say helped engineer procedural moves that brought the gambling debate to the House floor. Mays, who could not be reached by phone for comment, officially left his post in January after four years as speaker. He began lobbying this session for Kansans for Economic Growth, a Galena group working to bring a casino to southeast Kansas.

Robin Jennison, who led the House in 1999 and 2000, successfully lobbied this session for Boot Hill Gaming, which wants to bring a casino to Dodge City. In addition, former House Speaker Tim Shallenburger, who led the House from 1995 to 1998, didn't officially lobby the Legislature but he did visit the Statehouse on several occasions. Shallenburger said the owners of his employer, a Baxter Springs bank, support allowing southeast Kansans to decide whether they want a casino and see gaming as a way to fuel economic development.

All three former speakers once opposed or showed little enthusiasm for expanded gambling during their terms in office. But they've changed their tunes somewhat since stepping down. Unlike many other states, Kansas doesn't require former state officials to wait before becoming a paid lobbyist. Among the former speakers, it's Mays' successful turn at lobbying for gaming that has cost him with some of his former supporters.

House Federal and State Affairs Committee Chairman Arlen Siegfreid, R-Olathe, said he'd always had tremendous respect for Mays. While serving as speaker, Siegfreid said Mays took a "strong and principled stand" against gaming, seeing it as something that could hurt people and damage the state's economy. Seeing Mays push a gambling interest after leaving office disappointed him, Siegfreid said. "I lost a great deal of that respect," Siegfreid said. "I considered him a friend. I was really disappointed."

Particularly infuriating for the chamber's anti-gambling conservatives is their view that Mays helped engineer a backdoor way to force a vote on gambling over the objections of House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls.

With Siegfreid's committee still studying the gambling bills, another House committee amended an elections measure so it would deal with gambling. Once passed, that gave gambling proponents a bill to amend with their plan. Landwehr said gambling backers then made an attempt to force Neufeld into a vote on gambling at Mays' urging. Neufeld ultimately allowed several gambling proposals to come to the floor, including a bill extending the lottery, which was amended to carry the gaming plan.

"I think it was disrespectful to backdoor a sitting speaker like that," Landwehr said. In a written statement, Neufeld said the efforts of Mays and the other former speakers were only part of the reason gambling passed this session.

"Former speakers know the rules and procedures much better than most other lobbyists. But it was more than just them working against me. There was the governor, the Senate president and 37 other gambling lobbyists working to get a gaming bill passed this session that would allow state-owned casinos to be built. "And at times, it felt like I and other concerned members of the House Republican Caucus were working against a stacked deck," Neufeld said.[21]


Other factors in the passage of expanded gaming were the lobbying efforts of other Kansas tribes. The Kansas City Star reported that the Kickapoo and the Sac and Fox tribes, which each operate a casino on their reservations in northeast Kansas; jointly own 80 acres at the northeast corner of 118th Street and State Avenue, which is the western edge of the Village West entertainment district that grew up around Kansas Speedway.

Thwarted in their years-long efforts for a federally authorized off-reservation casino on the site, the tribes last year began lobbying to be a contractor for state-owned gambling. The law requires tribal managers to waive their rights as sovereign nations. Governor Sebelius, a long-time proponent of expanded gaming, said in an interview on Channel 49, a Topeka news station, that the Kickapoo and Sac & Fox deserve a shot at running destination casinos for all their hard work to get this expanded gaming legislation passed.

Of course this wasn’t limited to those two Kansas Tribes wanting to leave their reservations for greener pastures. The Iowa Tribe, in partnership with the Connecticut-based Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, in 2005 proposed a tribal resort casino in Park City, Kan., near Wichita. Pequot spokesman Bruce MacDonald said Monday the two tribes now would seek a state contract deal. The Pequot’s Foxwoods is the largest casino in the world.[22] In the end though, none of the Kansas Tribes were awarded a destination casino. The bids reached $600 million dollars and the tribes couldn’t match the offers of the big gaming companies and eventually dropped out of the sweepstakes.

Passage of the gambling bill turned a session known mostly for low productivity into one likely to be memorable.

Large, casino-and-hotel complexes will be permitted in Ford County, Wyandotte County, either Cherokee or Crawford counties and either Sedgwick or Sumner counties. The Wichita Greyhound Park, the Woodlands in Kansas City and the now-closed Camptown Greyhound Park in Frontenac, will share 2,200 slots at first, then get another 600 once the state signs casino contracts with private developers.

The state will own and operate the casinos, though private companies will manage their day-to-day operations. Supporters believe the state eventually will realize $200 million a year in revenues.[23] But only time will tell how this expanded gaming produces results for the State of Kansas and the three other Indian tribes in Kansas.


(State stealing again) It finally happened. We found a way to once again steal something from our American Indian brethren.

Three years ago, I wrote a letter to the editor opposing the state's plans to operate casinos. Now, with the signing of the gambling bill, this is pretty much a done deal. The state will now gamble on gambling to bring funds to its till. Apparently, high taxes aren't enough to keep the state running.

The state (Kathleen Sebelius, many Democrats and hapless, spineless Republicans) couldn't stand to see the Indians making money and not having to rely on the government for handout dollars. The tribes found a way to pull their people from the poverty levels so now will have to compete for gaming dollars against a state government bent on cash-grabbing and then doling it back out as it sees fit.

For years, I have watched this state ill-will toward the Indian population of Kansas. I watched as a reservation gas station was taken to court for selling gasoline at lower prices than local competitors, I watched and read as Robin Jennison made statements about wanting to "get in" on the gambling money, and I watched a Democratic governor dismiss and forsake a minority people so that she could have her slot machines.

Congratulations Gov. Custer, you've won your Little Big Horn.[24]

The Wichita Eagle, Friday, February 1, 2008

A Shawnee County District Court judge has ruled that the state's new expanded gambling law is constitutional and that the state lottery may continue implementing it. The decision, handed down today by Judge Charles E. Andrews, is expected to be appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court. Andrews rejected a suit filed by Attorney General Paul Morrison and supported by the Potawatomi Nation and Stand Up for Kansas. The suit argued that the state would not own the casinos and racetrack slots as required by the constitution because it would not own the related real estate, buildings, fixtures and equipment.

Andrews called the argument moot because, under the 1986 constitutional amendment that created the lottery, the state must own and operate only the games of chance. "The ownership of any other item related to the game of chance is merely incidental and inconsequential to the constitutional analysis," he wrote. Morrison had argued that the state would merely oversee and regulate casinos and slots, while casino companies would own them. Andrews wrote that under the constitution, "the state owns and operates the lottery because it has complete power over the casino manager from manager selection through the manager's daily activities."

He also said the lottery owns the games by owning the software used to run electronic games, as well as by having complete control over which games will be played. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius had asked the attorney general to file a "friendly" lawsuit so legal questions surrounding the law could be resolved. She had feared developers wouldn't commit to spending millions of dollars without a definitive court ruling.

Newly appointed Attorney General Stephen Six is expected to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court to get a definitive ruling. Spokeswoman Frances Gorman said his office was studying the decision.

Contributing: Associated Press


To put the impact of the Nation's casino operations in perspective, Jonathan Wimer, executive director of the Jackson County Development Corporation, said if an outside company came to the area with 100 jobs, it would become the second or third-largest employer in the county.

The casino impact, however, isn't felt only in Jackson County. Shawnee County has also received benefit - not only from people traveling through the city on their way to the casino, but because many casino employees are also Shawnee County residents. The local governments and businesses benefit significantly, as the wages paid casino employees are spent in the area, creating business income and government tax revenues.

Doug Kinsinger, president and CEO of the Greater Topeka Chamber and Go Topeka, points to the casino as one of this area's "economic engines." "This will only bring more attention and travelers to our region and also more jobs to our region," he said. The improvements Harrah's is making should enhance its image as a destination spot. The convention center - with its business center equipped with computers and fax machines - should bring more business travel to the area. Its big business and it's expected to get even bigger.

Is the Casino stimulating additional Business activity in Jackson County?

The Nation did an economic study for the years 2002-3 to show the impact gaming has done for this area, but has done none since. In this economic study conducted by David Darling, Ph.D. and Mark Seitz of the Kansas State and Extension, Department of Agricultural Economics, entitled “The Role of the Prairie Band Casino Business in the Area Economy: Jackson and Shawnee Counties has many interesting findings:

  • In 2002, 937 employees received wages and benefits totaling $17.4 million. Employee survey results indicate 85.6 percent of this income is spent locally. Combined with factors measuring the propensity of employees to spend locally of 0.65 and a non-household payroll effect of 0.93, and induced income effect was calculated resulting in an induced income effect on household spending of $26.6 million. Combined with additional spending of $5.2 million of local vendors, the net effect on the state economy from the casino payroll equates to $49.2 million.
  • Employee survey results show a significant amount of personal income is spent locally on homes and cars. Employee survey respondents indicate 18 percent purchased or built homes between 1998-2002, with an average of $95,443 and 61 percent purchased one or more vehicles with an estimated average value of $14,042, generating an estimated $393,000 in sales tax from vehicle purchases, as well as property taxes at both the state and local levels.
  • The casino facility paid state income taxes in 2002 totaling $652,468, as well as $32,177 in state liquor tax, helping support local school districts and other infrastructure in the region. These figures do not take into account the Prairie Band Nation Government spending in the local area.
  • Home purchases and employment generated by the casino have resulted in 15.1 percent of employees moving to or around the local area. Of this 15 percent, 6 percent moved to the area from outside the state, bringing with them additional income and spending. The estimated impact on the local school district has been the enrollment of 574 school age children in the area public schools, with an estimated 77 enrolled in USD 337 (Royal Valley Schools) in the 2002-2003 school year.
  • Personal income and business activity linkages in Jackson County had a sizable impact on the local economy. Between 1996 and 2002, 77 businesses opened or expanded, with 42 percent retail and 39 percent service oriented. Manufacturing and industry creation only accounted for 14 percent of the business creation in the county through this period.
  • Over-all, the casino facility has had a positive impact in Jackson County and particularly in Mayetta. Looking at backward linkages through the economy, driven by the casino property, the Induced Income Effect multipliers of 2.528 shows the property is having a major, positive impact on the state economy, whereas, the Induced Income Effect multiplier for the two county areas of Jackson and Shawnee County is 2.010. Both indicate a strong impact from the casino property on the state and local economies

Examples of Actual Tribal Projects as a Result of Gaming:

  • Land Acquisition (ongoing)
  • Government Center (1999)
  • Senior Citizen Building (2000)
  • Fire Station (2001)
  • Police Station (1998)
  • Convenience Store (1999)
  • Craft Shop
  • Remodel/Expand Bingo Hall (2000)
  • Addition to Childcare Center (2001)
  • Expansion to Food Distribution Warehouse (2001)
  • Build out of Government Center Lower Level (2001)
  • Wastewater Treatment Facility - Government Center Complex (2001)
  • Elder Housing (2001-6)
  • Tribal Member Housing (2000-06)
  • Five-Year Road Paving Project (2001-7)
  • Boys and Girls Club Expansion (2002-03)
  • Maintenance Building (2002)
  • Lands Management Building (2002)
  • Installation of Fiber Optic Cable from Government Center to K-Road (2002)
  • Improved Tribal Services
  • 1,350 New Reservation Jobs (casino and tribal government)
  • Water System Upgrades (2000-3)
  • Waste Water Treatment Plant, K Road (2002)
  • Renovated Pow-Wow Grounds/Park (2002) Pedestrian and Bike Trail (2007)
  • Improvements to Reservation Churches
  • Interpretative Site
  • Tribal Health Clinic (2006)
  • Major Casino/Hotel Expansion (2003-04)
  • Two Eight-Unit Apartment Buildings (2002-03)
  • US-75 & 150 Road Interchange
  • Social Services Building and Clinic (2005-6)
  • Home Down Payment Assistance (2003-07)
  • Home Renovation/Repair (2003-07)
  • Relocation (2003-07)


1995 Economic Base Analysis

A 1995 analysis of the reservation economy, using economic base theory, provides a good explanation of the poor conditions of the Potawatomi reservation. The report stated:

There are very few basic sector entities exporting from the reservation. The basic sector entity most common to other similar economies is the local farmers. Crops, cattle and hay are exported by local farmers to provide income and employment.

Labor services are also provided from the reservation by residents working in Topeka, Mayetta, Hoyt, Holton and other places off the reservation. Many farmers work full-time at other jobs and part-time in farming. The Bingo Hall, Cokely Farms hunting club and the Thunderhill Racetrack provide exports of entertainment services to patrons. The two gas stations along U.S. Highway also provide exports of services and products to non-resident customers.

One of the most significant basic sector factors in the local economy is the federal government. Nearly a million dollars in grants, and aid of various kinds, comes to the reservation from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies. However, much of this money goes to outside contractors, who perform the work.

The non-basic sector of the economy is even less developed than the basic sector. There are very few non-basic sector entities providing services to local residents of the reservation.

An analysis depicting the location of the non-farming business entities on the reservation indicates there are too few basic sector businesses and they are almost exclusively owned by non-Indians. There is no multiplication effect from the non-basic sector. For example, clothing, groceries and other personal needs are all purchased off the reservation.

2008 Updates on Economic Conditions

One of the immediate benefits of gaming revenues for the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation is the opportunity for new development and improvements to the reservation infrastructure.

A recent study divided technology infrastructure into two main categories: basic and advanced. Basic technology infrastructure includes those services that are considered essential for everyday economic activities and to maintain an average standard of living. This includes telephones, roads, water and sewer systems, basic educational facilities and the like, required to maintain population levels. These services have to be improved for growth to occur on the reservation. This includes more affordable housing and improved water and sewer lines. In addition, the Nation will provide improved recreational services in the form of renovated parks and proposed youth building upgrades. In the Potawatomi case, the early years of casino revenues focused on creating a solid foundation for future business opportunities and on the basic technology infrastructure needs. For years, the Potawatomi had poor roads, telephone service, water and electric service. The financial benefits provided by the casino have enabled the Nation to address many of these basic needs.

Some of the basic technology infrastructure projects include services that might be considered optional or unnecessary for conducting business and living comfortably by a significant segment of the population. Finished projects include a cellular phone system, pagers, Internet access and distance-learning programs. In the Indian community these are considered luxuries, but in the future they will become a central requirement for conducting business. For example, in 2002, the Nation installed a cellular tower to expand cellular service on the reservation. This was completed and this service will help emergency services along with individual needs. Also a distance-learning program agreement with Haskell Indian Nations University was signed and implemented.



At one time, the Nation employed only a handful of people. In 2008, the numbers exceed 237 (380 in 2005) employees and that fact alone dictates more office space for needed services. Casino revenues have enabled the Nation to meet this need and the following summary describes what has been done to date.


Government Center. A new tribal government building was completed in 1999; this project was paid for solely with revenues from the Nation's casino. The new building is located next to the bingo hall just west of Mayetta and houses the tribal government offices. This includes: conference room and offices for the tribal council gaming commission, election, enrollment, per-capita departments, the tribal attorney and conference and training rooms for staff use. The building has a total of 36,600 square feet of floor space. The upper level contains 15,300 square feet of office space. The lower level houses several more tribal programs, essentially centralizing tribal services and providing an added convenience for all tribal members.

Childcare Center. In recent years, the Nation built a new childhood education center with Housing and Urban Development grant money. An addition, paid for with gaming revenues, was completed in mid-2001 and is designed to address rapid growth. This new building provides a beautiful setting for staff, children and families. Financial supplements from the gaming operation promote continued quality programming and staff retention. In fact, many of the teachers hold masters degrees. Childcare, Early Head Start and Early Intervention are among the comprehensive services provided through the Nation's early childhood programs.

Tribal Police Station. The Nation has completed construction of a tribal police department building. Prior to the development of a tribal police force, emergency situations and criminal actions were responded to by the Jackson County Sheriff's Department. Jackson County, in 1996, had seven full-time officers to police the 658 square miles within the County. Compared to other nearby counties, this force was inadequate to handle the crime rate in Jackson County. In 1996, the Nation received a grant from the Justice Department and BIA for the development of a tribal police department.

Since then, the Nation has developed its own department and the resulting 24-hour police presence deters crime. The Law Enforcement Program is responsible for enforcement of tribal codes, ordinances and regulations, and protecting the peace, health, safety and property of reservation residents. A few years ago, the State of Kansas adopted a state law which empowers tribal law enforcement officers to enforce state criminal laws against non-Indians on the Nation’s reservation. This has facilitated criminal law enforcement on the reservation.

Fire Station. The Nation has built a new fire station - a project completed in late fall 2000. This facility allows the PBP Community Fire Department to house all of their emergency vehicles inside a heated station. The new station houses a fire engine, a recently a tanker, a rescue truck, three brush trucks and the Nation's two ambulances. In addition to office and administrative areas, the main level also has sleeping and eating areas for staffing which includes Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technicians personnel. The old tribal court building that sits east of the fire station is now serving as a staff-training classroom for the fire department and other PBPN departments and programs.

Elder Center. The new Elder Center has over 11,000 square feet in the main level and 7,500 in the lower level. The new facility houses the Senior Meal site with a seating capacity in the main dining room for 96 people and a separate dining room for another 16. The kitchen is furnished with the latest appliances and equipment, including a walk-in cooler and freezer. The center has a lounge area with fireplace and large-screen TV, a craft room with sewing machines and work table, and a game room with two billiard tables and another large-screen TV. The facility is also equipped with an elevator, a medical room, lockers and showers. The lower level houses the Language Department and is an ideal location for classes and has a sound room for recording. This is a state-of-the-art building, which all tribal members can be proud of now and for years to come.

People's Park Renovation. In a recent independent 2001-02 survey of tribal members (104 reservation residents and 1,454 off-reservation residents) by Jones Seel Huyett of Topeka, Kansas, a need for reservation camping facilities was identified. One survey question worth noting asked: Please mark the recreation services you would like the Tribal Government to provide AND circle the service you are most interested in: And a large percentage from both on and off the reservation wanted camping facilities, fishing area and a nature area.

As a result of the data, the governing body proceeded to renovate Prairie People's Park, with new construction and a general face-lift. The majority of the funds came as a result of the new five-year management agreement with Harrah's Kansas Corporation. As part of the final negotiated casino management agreement, Harrah's agreed to pay $500,000 "for the refurbishment of the Prairie People's Park and to fund the Nation's cost of hosting the Gathering of Nations at the Park in 2002."

The renovation of the People's Park included a new arbor, fence, eight shelter-houses with picnic tables, improved signage and lighting, a sidewalk along the arbor, additional parking, and an expanded campground. All of these improvements are long-term investments for the Nation. The goal is to make People's Park a place for tribal members to have picnics, meetings, family reunions along with pow-wows and, other events. In keeping with this goal, there will be no locked gates, thus making the park accessible to all tribal members year-round.

There is new lighting along the road through the park. The roadway is used extensively as a walking path by health-conscious tribal members. During the year of 2007, a Pedestrian and Bike Trail was built and it winds through the park and goes to the 2nd Cluster, a housing area and is a great addition. The park already has a playground for the children of the nearby "Cluster One" living community and anyone else from the reservation who wishes to utilize the play area. During the pow-wow this area was heavily utilized.

The campground is due east of the new arbor, where the pow-wow will take place each year. There are several picnic tables and benches scattered throughout the area. Large shade trees and a number of smaller trees were planted, making it a colorful backdrop to future events. All in all, the work done today will serve the Potawatomi indefinitely. It made a welcoming environment for the Potawatomi as well as visitors who stop by.

Memorial Wall at the Park. Roy A. Hale began gathering Veteran names for our Memorial wall in 1998 and in 2002 the first draft was completed and with support from the Tribal Council the Legion post began the process of designing the wall.

The Veterans Memorial wall was dedicated on November 26th 2003 with 309 Prairie Band Potawatomi Veterans names inscribed on it, included in those 309 names are 9 Tribal members who were killed in action. Each year the Legion post inscribes additional names to the wall and currently there are 364 names on the wall.

The post also continually adds to the Memorial and in 2004 benches and water fountain were added, in 2005 a stainless steel Eagle staff was added and in 2006 traditional Potawatomi designs were added to the Memorial. The Memorial is a work in progress and additional upgrades are scheduled for the memorial wall as we continue to honor our veterans.

Boy’s and Girl’s Club. The Boys & Girls Club built in 2002 houses an alternative for children. The Boys and Girls Club of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation is aware of the influences of the total environment and provides youth with relevant, everyday, varied and diversified individual and group services - based on proven principles of youth development - which will achieve the health, social, education, vocational, character and leadership development of our membership. The building has a pool, library, recreational areas including a gym and activity areas. The Boys & Girls Club serves the surrounding area and work collaboratively with the local school system. The youth have benefited from this facility and attendance steadily has increased since opening. The Boys and Girls Club offers constructive alternatives to society's ills.

PBP Nation Station. The "PBP Nation Station" opened its doors on September 30, 1999 and now operates under the direction of the Prairie Band Casino & Resort. Before that time it was under the direction of the Nation's tribal operations. The Nation Station is located adjacent to the casino. Its customer-base is comprised of visitors to the Nation's gaming operations, non-resident reservation workers and residents of the reservation. It is a modern 8,400 square foot convenience store. The store is more than three times larger than the average convenience store (2,500 square ft) and does a higher volume of business. The store also provides important services to residents of the reservation and reservation workers. Many of its fuel customers are people who work or live on the reservation, other than at the casino, and supplies fuel to the Nation's government vehicles. The product mix is typical of a neighborhood convenience store and sells fuel, cigarettes, food, snacks and other merchandise.

Mayetta Oil Company. Mayetta Oil Company provides propane to approximately 1567 customers which are primarily in the Holton/Mayetta area. Mayetta Oil Company operates out of Mayetta, Kansas and delivers gas in the four major counties: Jackson, Shawnee, Jefferson and Douglas. The company was acquired by the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation on August 23rd, 2005 and has seen consistent increase in customers and commercial accounts.

Road Projects

The Nation will continue to make investments on reservation roadways to support economic growth, job creation and enhance the safe and efficient movement of people and goods. An old, inefficient transportation system becomes a significant negative factor in attempts to develop the community and provide services to its residents. A five-year road improvement plan reflects a Potawatomi government commitment to protect and enhance the standard of living on the Potawatomi reservation. This plan seeks to change the existing system, from a drag on the potential of the Potawatomi Nation, into an asset to the Nation's growth. An effective transportation network is an important factor in creating long-term job opportunities for the Potawatomi community.


In 1986, Martell & Associates prepared a Transportation Plan for the Potawatomi reservation. In compiling the plan, Martell conducted an extensive evaluation of the existing road conditions, traffic volumes and improvement needs. The plan generally shows the road conditions to be poor and the improvement requirements to be substantial. The study identified several areas of concern:

  • Most of the intensive land-use areas within the reservation have access problems
  • Main access routes, one providing a north-south access and the other providing an east-west access, have several road condition problems
  • Roadway maintenance agreements between different governing agencies are not well-defined
  • Low usage of traffic control devices within the reservation
  • No existing system of arterial streets on the reservation
  • All roads are presently gravel roads in fair-to-poor condition


Pavement of Road 158 in 1998 was a cooperative project between Jackson County, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Housing and Urban Development grants and the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. The $2.8 million road improvement project included grading and surfacing of nine miles of roadway - from highway 75 to "K" road and south on "K" - that was completed in three phases.

Current Projects

In 2001, the Nation completed $2 million worth of improvements to seven additional miles of roadway, which connect to Road 158. This included not only road resurfacing, but road reconstruction to achieve a higher degree of safety and improved drainage.

No work was completed in 2002 due to right-of-way issues with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but 14 more miles of roadwork were done in 2003 and 2005. This five-year Road Improvement Plan will blacktop, or chip and seal, a total of 35 miles of roadway, bringing the total to 44 total miles of improved road. In 2008, there are 30.7 miles of black-top road.

In addition, the Road and Bridge Department maintains 119 miles of roads on the Potawatomi Reservation. Many successful improvement projects, including upgrades of major roads to all-weather status, have been completed by the department in the last several years. The Nation has built 25 tribal bridges in the last 11 years; in addition the BIA has built 29 bridges in the last thirty years. After the huge bridge collapse in Minneapolis, MN in 2007, many communities went into a panic situation wondering if there bridges were safe, but not on the reservation since the roads and bridges were a priority. Safety is important to every community. The projects were made possible through gaming revenues. Road and bridge projects like these will promote tourism, create jobs and improve the Potawatomi business environment and quality of life.


Past Projects

With an influx of gaming capital to the Nation, there was an opportunity to improve the living conditions of tribal members. Providing affordable housing, especially to people on fixed incomes, is one of the most critical areas for any government to be involved in and is a priority for Potawatomi tribal government. For the first time since HUD-sponsored building projects in the 1977 and in 1984, home-ownership within the reservation became a reality for many members. A range of housing opportunities will be provided to meet the needs of tribal members and their families living in the tribal community and to encourage others to return to the Reservation.

Current Project

Financing programs were available to enable home-ownership, provide affordable rental-housing and subsidize housing costs (as needed) for elders and the handicapped. All new housing was attractively designed and well constructed, landscaped and maintained.

The Nation built new housing for young adults and senior citizens. (Overall, the Indian population is young. As of July 1, 1998, approximately 38% of American Indian, Eskimo, and Aluet resident populations were under the age of 20, compared to 28.7% for the U.S. resident population.)

Over the years, the Nation built over 24 houses, 16 regular apartments, 15 senior citizen apartments, 14 rent-to-own houses, 4 rental units and 15 duplexes. The tribe enabled tribal members nationwide to benefit by assistance with home purchases, renovation and relocation assistance. The last homes built on the reservation were with HUD development money in 1977 and 1985. A recent article said the only way tribes can make lasting change on reservations is to provide housing for its people.

The Nation applied for housing tax credits, to assist with the construction cost of these homes and duplexes, and was successful in that application, saving the Nation more than $1,500,000 to be used on other housing projects. Grant approval and funding from Indian Health Service (IHS) for the cost of sewer and water was also secured.

The Indian Health Service unit (IHS) has committed to work with the Nation, and other agencies, to help develop the residential water supply to better meet the Nation's needs. IHS has secured funding to assist with water and wastewater lines for the senior duplexes at the K Road Complex (I.H.S. Project OK 02-C55) and is working with the Nation's environmental and construction departments to identify the facilities needed and estimated costs for the senior replacement homes project. IHS also assisted the Nation in the past by providing funding to scattered homes that have water and sewer-failure situations. Homes that qualify may be able to receive assistance now.

Wastewater Treatment Facility (K Road Complex)

The K Road Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) treats the wastewater from the K Road Complex facilities that include the Elder Center and Elder Housing, a multi-purpose building, courthouse, fire station, gym, shop and daycare center, along with a nursing/assisted living complex. It also treats wastewater from an existing 30-home subdivision and has the capacity to treat an additional 20-30 home subdivisions and the Boys/Girls Club.

The WWTF has the capacity to treat 60,000 gallons per day for future flows with a current flow anticipated in the range of 35-40,000 gallons per day.

The treatment process will be the widely used "extended aeration" type of treatment process. This process provided a high-quality waste product, meeting stringent EPA limits. Air is forced into the treatment basin through submerged aerator, which provides the oxygen necessary for proper wastewater treatment. Disinfection will be necessary and ultra-violet (UV) disinfection is the recommended disinfection system. This is typically the common disinfection process chosen for larger-capacity treatment facilities. In addition, a Wastewater Treatment Facility has been completed at the casino for their continued needs.

Water Issues on the Reservation

In the last five years, the Reservation area has experienced significant increases in the demand for water and has suffered through periods when the water supply was inadequate to meet existing demand. The Tribal Council has worked to secure an adequate supply of water, and an adequate water system, to meet the Reservation's water needs for the next 40 years. The Reservation area is currently served by several sources, including Jackson County Rural Water Districts #1 and #3 (the largest distributor), Pottawatomie County Rural Water District #4 and private water wells.

A few years ago, the Nation requested that the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) assess the water supply demands for the Reservation so that long-term community planning could take those demands into account. The most recent BOR study concluded that the existing water systems would fall far short in meeting the needs generated by future development on the Reservation. The BOR conclusion was based upon projections for significant future commercial and residential development on the Reservation.

Population on the Reservation was estimated to increase from 1,625 residents to 2,935 residents by 2040. Residential demand was projected to grow from 186,875 gallons per day up to 337,525 gallons per day; commercial demand was projected to grow from 50,250 gallons per day up to 94,750 gallons per day in the same 40-year period.

The BOR report investigated the possibility of meeting the Reservation's water demands through a joint effort with the Kickapoo Tribe and Sac and Fox Nation. Among the many alternatives for a joint project were: the Pikitanoi project (bringing water from the Missouri River) a new reservoir to be constructed near the Kickapoo Reservation, purchasing water from Perry Lake, and obtaining water from the Kansas River/City of Topeka; with new water lines to be constructed to each Reservation from each source. Project costs ranged from $17.8 million to $27.1 million. The BOR also studied the Prairie Band's water supply options and considered the Kansas River/Shawnee Reservoir, Perry Lake and Banner Creek Reservoir/RWD #3 as some of the possible sources. The BOR report concluded that Banner Creek Reservoir/RWD #3 was the most feasible option.

Another study, based in part upon the BOR report, was conducted by the engineering firm of Bartlett & West. The study concluded that the Reservation area's water system piping and storage capacity were inadequate to meet short/long-term demand. Bartlett & West recommended the piping concerns be addressed by installing larger pipes and pumps in certain areas (east side of Reservation from 174 Road down to 150 Road and then west on 158 Road, to the current standpipe and west on 150 Road, to connect to the casino).

Bartlett & West also proposed placing a larger water tower at the present 158 Road location and a larger water tower at the casino, increasing the total capacity by over 300,000 gallons. The Tribal Council approved these recommendations and reached agreement with RWD #3 to share the $1,660,000 cost of these improvements. The Nation utilized an approved Indian Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $710,000 to cover a large portion of its share of these costs. These improvements will allow RWD #3 to meet the Reservation's projected water demands through 2020.

Burns and McDonnell Engineers and the Nation partnered in 2003 to conduct a water study on the Potawatomi reservation. Test wells were conducted and accompanied with water studies to identify adequate water resources for the Nation. This project was initiated to develop the Nation’s own Reverse Osmosis Plant that will provide and supply clean water to the Reservation and surrounding areas. Currently, the Nation is in the design engineering phase of developing the water treatment plant with construction scheduled to commence in July 2008. Operation of the water treatment facility will be in early 2009. Long-term, the Nation will consider the feasibility of owning and operating its own water supply system on the Reservation

Land Acquisition Program

In 1998, the Tribal Council of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation had a stated desire to repurchase reservation land, previously sold by the Nation or its members or lost through the passage of laws and policies of non-Indian governments. Thus, each budget year the Nation allocates land purchase funds. As of 2008, the Nation owns 14,518 acres and membership owns 19,745 acres for a total of 32,525 acres. The Nation is getting close to reclaiming half the reservation.

Land is a valuable and uniquely powerful asset for any people, and is especially important for the Potawatomi Nation. Land offers several benefits:

  • Sovereignty
  • Environmental preservation
  • A place for housing, income generation and economic development
  • A lasting gift to future generations of Potawatomi

Land acquisition will shift tribal resources away from simply reacting to and monitoring the actions of those outside the Nation, and toward a more proactive establishment of the Nation's regulatory authority.

Currently, the Nation uses a portion of tribally-owned lands for the provision of social services, such as a drug and alcohol half-way house, and for elder and low-income housing. One portion of land, toward the center of the reservation, houses two clusters of homes, one projected future housing site, a projected Boy’s and Girl’s Club, Fire Station and a Senior Citizen Meal site - all of which effectively form a Potawatomi neighborhood.

Finally, land acquisition can provide a long-term asset base for future generations and serve as a component to other tribal priorities. In the language of investment theory, land can be interpreted as a way for the Nation to diversify its asset holdings. By investing in a combination of assets (such as investments in facilities and equipment, stocks, land, etc.), the Nation spreads the risk of losing money and provides a more predictable, stable growth rate on its overall investments.

The Nations optimum investment portfolio may include, for example, a mix of per capita payments to individual tribal members, investments in the reconstruction of tribal buildings, the provision of social services and land, among others. Thus, an appropriate asset portfolio, with land as one of its components, is one way to ensure the long-term security, of and return, on assets.

While these ambitious projects signify a giant step toward immediate improvement, the fact remains that the Nation has a challenge ahead of it, necessitated by years of neglect. But changes are occurring. Gaming revenues have given the Nation the opportunity to improve the quality of life for its members and has made a difference. This is the time to plan wisely, not just for the present but, more importantly, for the future.

Tribal Gaming not only benefits the aforementioned programs but also allows its membership to live successful lives, to provide for their families and to possess hope and pride in the future of its people. This is the benefit and the impact of Indian Gaming on the Prairie Band Potawatomi Reservation.

There is much more to the Potawatomi story than what’s described in these last few paragraphs but they can serve as some background material. The Potawatomi can now provide a wide range of opportunities in employment and business development, while contributing to the economic viability of the region.


[1] “Don’t deny Indians’ right to try gaming industry.” USA Today 20 May, 1992. 10-A

[2] Denney Clements. “Congress takes another whack at Indian sovereignty.” The Wichita Eagle-Beacon 29 September, 1988, 3D

[3] The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) is responsible for monitoring and regulating 195 tribes operating 325 gaming operations in 28 states with revenues totaling over $8.1 billion. The National Indian Gaming Commission is an independent federal regulatory agency of the United States. The Commission was created by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988 to monitor and regulate certain gaming activities on Indian lands.

The mission of the NIGC, in keeping with IGRA declaration of policy, is to ensure that Indian gaming is regulated, “to shield it from organized crime and other corrupting influences, to ensure that the Indian tribe is the primary beneficiary of the gaming operation and to ensure that gaming is conducted fairly and honestly by both the operator and the player.”

[4] Sidney Hill, Tadadaho. “Statement on High Stakes Gambling, Haudenosaunkee April, 2005

[5] Gerry Sikorski. Congressional Record – House. H 8156. September 26, 1988

[6] The states were required under IGRA to negotiate in good faith to enter into a compact with a tribe to allow Class III gaming. If they did not do so, the tribes were allowed to sue in federal court. Congress adopted this good faith requirement to ensure that the states would not stonewall but would enter into negotiations that could and would be completed

[7] Leslie C. McDaniel. “Governor signs casino compact.” The Holton Recorder 1, June, 1992, Editorial

[8] Dick Snider. “Another reservation raid?” The Topeka Capital Journal 1992

[9] Don’t deny Indians’ right to try gaming industry.” USA Today 20 May, 1992. 10-A

[10] State Gaming Agency web-site. http://www.accesskansas.org/ksga/duties.htm Indian gaming became a reality in Kansas April 29, 1995 when the Kansas legislature approved two of the three gaming compacts submitted by the northeast Kansas tribes. In a very close vote in the House, compacts with the Iowa of Kansas and Nebraska and with the Prairie Band Potawatomi were approved and passed on to the Senate where they also passed. Elaine Schroeter “Iowa and Potawatomi approved for gaming” News From Indian Country 05-31-1995

[11] John Hanna. “Questions raised over court ruling, casino compacts.” Lawrence Journal World 28, March, 1996. In this article Attorney General Carla Stovall noted that her office encouraged legislators to put an expiration date on the compact, but they chose not to.

[12] Sidney Hill, Tadadaho. “Statement on High Stakes Gambling, Haudenosaunkee April, 2005

[13] Source: National Indian Gaming Association

[14] Recent Improvements to Casino Access: Three of four of the ramps connecting the new 150th Road overpass at U.S. Highway 75 opened September 29, 2006, marking a nearly complete opening of the interchange. The other ramp is scheduled for opening soon. The interchange’s estimated total project cost has been listed by Kansas Department of Transportation at $10,839,001, including construction, design and engineering, utility location, right-of-way acquisition and inspection. Of that amount, $7,881,000 has been estimated as the construction cost. The Prairie Band Potawatomi contributed over $1.2 million to the project. This new interchange signals a better access and adds much more safety for casino customers in the future.

[15] Matt Connor. “Pride of the Prairie.” Indian Gaming Business August, 2005. 9.

[16] Potawatomi Nation: We're going to fight it Tribe to challenge gaming legislation By Michael Hooper The Capital-Journal, Tuesday, April 03, 2007

[17] Kansas House approves expanded gambling bill By Scott Rothschild Lawrence Journal World

House Vote:
The 64-58 vote Monday approved a bill authorizing casinos in four areas and slot machines at dog and horse tracks in three cities.
Of the 78 Republicans, 23 voted "yes," 54 voted "no" and one didn't vote. Of the 47 Democrats, 41 voted "yes," four voted "no" and two didn't vote.
Republicans voting yes: Aurand, Burgess, Colloton, George, Hill, Horst, Humerickhouse, Huntington, Johnson, King, Otto, Owens, Proehl, Roth, Sharp, Sloan, Spalding, Swanson, Swenson, Wilk, Wolf, Worley, Yoder.
Republicans voting no: Beamer, Bethell, Bowers, Brown, Brunk, Carlson, Colyer, Craft, Crum, Dahl, Donohoe, Faber, Fund, Gordon, Grange, Hayzlett, Hodge, C. Holmes, M. Holmes, Huebert, Kelley, Kelsey, Kiegerl, Kinzer, Knox, Landwehr, Light, Mast, Masterson, McLeland, Merrick, Metsker, Jim Morrison, Judy Morrison, Moxley, Myers, Neufeld, Olson, O'Neal, Patton, Peck, Pottorff, Powell, Powers, Rhoades, Schroeder, Schwartz, Shultz, Siegfreid, Tafanelli, Vickrey, Watkins, Whitham, Wolf.
Republicans not voting: Goico.
Democrats voting yes: Ballard, Burroughs, Davis, Dillmore, Faust-Goudeau, Feuerborn, Flaharty, Flora, Frownfelter, Garcia, Gatewood, Goyle, Grant, Hawk, Henderson, Henry, Holland, Kuether, Lane, Loganbill, Long, Mah, McLachlan, Menghini, Neighbor, Palmer, Peterson, Phelps, Rardin, Ruff, Ruiz, Sawyer, Storm, Svaty, Tietze, Treaster, Trimmer, Ward, Wetta, Williams, Winn. Democrats voting no: Carlin, Lukert, McKinney, Pauls.
Democrats not voting: Crow, Miller
Senate Vote

[18] Bill authorizing casinos, slots clears Legislature , The Associated Press Lawrence Journal World, Thursday, March 29, 2007

[19] No bluffing: Casinos OK'd, Late-night filibuster in Senate pays off for gaming proponents By Tim Carpenter, The Capital-Journal, Published Thursday, March 29, 2007

[20] Attempts to kill gambling bill gave it life Wyandotte County casino measure passed after anti-gambling lawmakers forced a vote. By DAVID KLEPPER The Star’s Topeka correspondent, Mar. 30, 2007

[21] Former leaders influenced gambling measure By Chris Green. Harris News Service, April 2, 2007

[22] New legislation will allow slot machines at three racetracks and up to four state-owned casinos in Kansas. Rick Alm, Kansas City Star, Tue, Apr. 03, 2007

[23] Analysis: Passage of gambling fast, loose By John Hanna The Associated Press Topeka Capital Journal Published Monday, April 02, 2007

[24] Letters to Editor Topeka Capital Journal 4/16/2007

[25] In a letter from Gaming Laboratories International (GLI): “On the dates of March 26 and March 27, GLI personnel conducted an on-site inspection of the PBP casino in Mayetta, Kansas. The inspection consisted of certifying the IGT ABS ON-Line System version 3.05J SP 12. Subsequent to the results of the test, GLI, is satisfied that the IGT system has all the approved files and signatures. Therefore GLI hereby recommends the use of the IGT ABS on line system at Harrah’s Prairie Band Casino in Mayetta, Kansas. Paul J. Magno, Vice President, IGT. March 30, 2007.

[26] National Indian Gaming Association Resolution, 2005.