Casino Changes Everything for California Tribe - Sunday 25th of June 2006

CALIFORNIA – As reported by the Union-Democrat: "Within just five years, virtually everything has changed for the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk.

"The Tuolumne Rancheria, where many tribal members live, was once a drug-dealers' haven avoided by most outsiders.

"…Then, in 2001, the Me-Wuk opened their own hugely successful casino. And today, nearly every community group — from Rotary clubs to schools and scout troops — turns to the tribe for donations and sponsorships. Tribal members are asked for input on everything from restoring the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park to planning Tuolumne County's future development.

"Tribal Chairman Kevin Day won't reveal how much money Black Oak Casino brings in each year, but it's been enough in five years to buy more than 1,000 acres of land, start a major housing and golf course development, build an 11,000-square-foot medical center, employ more than 1,000 people, and provide a wide variety of services for tribal members.

"It's also paid for Tuolumne's first stop light, built county roads, bolstered community law enforcement and firefighting services, and allowed the tribe to be a major contributor to events and causes throughout Tuolumne and Calaveras counties.

"…The most important thing about the casino, Day said, is not how much money it brings in, but how the money is spent.

"Instead of just dividing profits among tribe members, Tribal Council members said the money is used to benefit the tribe and the surrounding community and to diversify the tribe's money-making ability so it won't always be dependent on the casino.

"Tribal members do not get regular checks in the mail, although voting members each get a monetary gift from the tribe each December.

"…Tribal members have complete health care coverage, along with other services listed in the accompanying story about tribal programs.

"…The tribe already has a new medical center. It offers free services for the tribe, but otherwise, it is a profit-making venture that serves paying patients…"

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