Construction on the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska’s casino in Carter Lake, Iowa on the western border of the state is moving along on schedule.
Ponca Tribe chairman Larry Wright Junior says they have now selected the name Prairie Flower for the casino — which was the name of former chief Standing Bear’s daughter who died during the tribe’s forced removal from their land to Oklahoma
“She passed away just west of Lincoln near a town called Milford, Nebraska, and her burial site is just north of the interstate there,” Wright says. He says Prairie Flower was one of the two final name choices selected by tribe members. “The other was her brother Bear Shield, and the winner was Prairie Flower,” Wright explains. “It’s commemorating the past and honoring that for her. But also kind of a continuation of that as Prairie Flowers which she was named after blooming again — a signal of rebirth if you will.”
Wright says the rebirth the casino is expected to provide will come in many forms. “Jobs and economic development for the programs and services that we provide to our people, and what it will mean for the surrounding communities and that economic opportunity as well,” according to Wright. “It takes on a lot of connotation depending on who you talk to.” The casino is expected to employ 100 people.
Casinos not only draw supporters — but also detractors — and Wright says there are both with this project and the leaders know it won’t solve every problem once it opens. “It’s not a panacea by any means, and like anything else we have those issues. And to be quite frank, we are not any different from any municipality on that level. There’s going to be people that disagree no matter what you do, but yet benefit from those kinds of services and the revenue that those services provide,” Wright says.
He says the leaders moved forward based on what the majority of the 4,300 tribe members want. “We have tribal members that don’t necessarily agree with it, but understand and understand what it means to our people. We walk a balancing line with that to,” Wright says. “By and larger, the majority of our people overwhelming support this effort and the impact that it means with our people.” The casino will be 9,500 square feet with 200 slot machines and no table games.
Wright says they are on scheduled to open in about two months. “We’re looking at a late October opening, and I guess like any construction project you are at the weather’s whim. And we’ve had a little bit of that with the amount of rain we’ve had in the area — which we are not complaining about — our team and around that,” Wright says. He says they will announce the grand opening date once they get closer to completing the construction.