The Meskwaki tribe has created a new company in hopes of landing a stake in a gambling operation proposed in Waterloo. Sean McGuinness, a spokesman for the Waterloo project, says Native American tribes in other parts of the country now own casinos outside of tribal lands. Casinos in Detroit and Minnesota are owned by local tribes, and the Nevada Gaming Commission has allowed an Alaskan tribe to own part of the Lake Las Vegas project. The Meskwakis have agreed to put up a good portion of the money for resurrection of the Waterloo Greyhound Park. There’d be dog racing again, in addition to construction of a new casino. Steven Olson, the Meskwaki tribe’s legal counsel, says the tribe has created a holding company that would put up the money for a 45 percent ownership stake in the complex.”The primary purpose for creating the structure was to segregate business decisions from politics,” Olson says. As you may recall, there was a months-long leadership dispute on the settlement that caused the temporary closure of their Tama casino. Larry Lasley, executive director of tribal operations for the Meskwaki’s, says the tribe wants to expand their business operations beyond the borders of their settlement. “Throughout much of its history since purchasing land in Tama County the tribe has been an insular body within Iowa,” Lasley says. “There were many reasons that the tribe kept to itself. They included significant cultural differences with the surrounding community, the tribe’s prior lack of financial resources and the guidance of our forefathers to remain cautious and protect our distinct cultural identity.” Lasley says the Meskwakis have given “careful thought” to the Waterloo investment and believe it will help “rekindle an old fire.” Part of their plan it to revive greyhound racing at the defunct Waterloo track. The Meskwaki’s already operate a casino near Tama, but because of their status as a sovereign nation, they do not pay state taxes on that enterprise. They would pay taxes, though, on a Waterloo operation proposed for the grounds of the defunct Waterloo Greyhound Park. The name Meskwaki, by the way, means people of the red earth and the tribe settled in Iowa in 1812.
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