Operators, suppliers and organizations work together for a higher cause
When Kids Quest was asked to be part of the White Earth Mission in 2011, the answer took mere seconds. To have Kids Quest, a business serving families, take part in a program to benefit children was a natural fit. The mission, founded in 2006 by then-gaming executive Valerie Red-Horse Mohl, was created to serve individuals, young and old, who were underserved by existing government and tribal programs.
What began as a small group consisting primarily of Valerie’s family members, has now grown to an annual event with nearly 60 men, women and youth gathering each summer to make a difference in the lives of others. Volunteers are recruited from within the casino vendor community, as well as a good share coming from non-local and regional church programs. In addition to providing hands-on manpower, there are casino industry vendors and corporations that contribute financially to the fund that makes this yearly endeavor possible.
The White Earth Mission has two facets of action – the first was designed to impact Native youth. In 2013, after two years of volunteering, the Kids Quest team tapped into their area of expertise and offered to develop unique curriculum that would be meaningful and relatable for the children and families served. This customized program focuses on peer-mentoring, core value development, enhanced self-esteem, independent thinking and leadership principles.
In addition to the curriculum change, it was determined that some of the behavior challenges encountered in the past were likely stemming from hunger, with many children arriving each morning without having eaten since lunchtime the day before. The mission soon after began serving breakfast options and making edible art projects or snacktivities, and the results were amazing. Full tummies translated into longer attention spans and improved participation.
The second facet of the mission provides construction assistance with much-needed repairs and structural upgrades for the homes of Tribal elders – protecting them from harsh Minnesota winters and sweltering summers. Side projects have included construction on a chemical dependency treatment center and sober living facility, as well as a transitional living shelter for homeless families and individuals. Roofs and windows are replaced, ramps are built, siding is repaired, painting is done, and bathrooms and kitchens are updated by teams fueled by faith and compassion. For more information on this program, contact Ann Zenor at email@example.com.
Blue Lake Rancheria – How Energy Independence Helped the Community During a Natural Disaster
Nestled in the heart of the redwoods along the stunning Northern California coast in Humboldt County sits our small Native American Tribe that’s setting the precedent for energy independence and resilience. Over the years, the Blue Lake Rancheria has taken steps to invest in green energy initiatives and the need has demonstrated to be crucial. The month of October 2019 proved to be challenging for Northern California, after PG&E cut power twice to help mitigate wildfires. The Tribe was in the scope of areas affected by both outages on October 9 and October 26, yet our planning was dramatically different than most businesses and residents, because we knew we would have power. The Tribe’s microgrid was able to disconnect from the main grid and “island,” providing emergency backup power to its six-building campus, including the Rancheria’s restaurants, hotel, casino, and government offices. We quickly became a hub of services for residents scrambling for shelter, fuel, ice and supplies. In fact, our county government credited us for saving lives, after the Tribe reserved rooms at the hotel for people with critical medical conditions. Also, two local papers set up shop in conference rooms so they could make print and get vital information out to the public, and the Rancheria opened a community resource center, a place families could go to stay warm and charge their electronic devices. Schatz Research Lab at Humboldt State University designed the Tribe’s solar-powered microgrid, which allows us to disconnect from the main grid and run off of a Tesla battery storage system when needed. The Tribe saves $200,000 in annual energy costs and reduces its carbon footprint by almost 200 tons each year. For more information on this program, contact Andrea Marvin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anti-Bullying and Wrestling Come Together
On November 19, 2019, Oscar Schuyler, Executive Director of the Morongo Gaming Agency and member of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, was present for the anti-bullying program, “Two Cultures One World.” Held at the Oneida Turtle Tribal Elementary School in Oneida, Wisconsin, the program included a 45-minute presentation with Q&A, presented to kindergarten through 12th grade. Through a mutual friend, Schuyler met Rikishi, an American champion and HOF WWE professional wrestler, along with his business partner and professional wrestler Reno Anoa’i. Together they formed a plan to bring their anti-bullying campaign to Tribal schools, where “bullying” is so contrary to the culture and principles that Schuyler stands by today. The program was made possible with the help of Rikishi’s cousin, Reno Anoa’i and with the support of NIGA, Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr., Aztek Gaming Solutions and the Oneida Casino. He added, “The presentation was inspirational, emotional and very powerful.” Schuyler hopes this will be one of many programs in Indian Country. For more information on this program, contact Reno Anoa’i at email@example.com
Snoqualmie Tribe and Snoqualmie Casino Honor Veterans
The Snoqualmie Tribe and Snoqualmie Casino continually look for opportunities to show appreciation to men and women who have served and are currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Community members and veterans from all generations assembled in the Snoqualmie Casino Ballroom on Veterans Day 2019 to pay tribute to the sacrifices of servicemen and women both past and present. North Bend resident and Air Force pilot, Major Joe Crecca spoke about his experience as a POW at Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam War. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as he recalled the experience of being shot down over North Vietnam by a Russian surface-to-air missile. Major Crecca was captured immediately upon touching the ground. He would spend over six years at Hanoi Hilton; the first eight months were in solitary confinement.
Following Major Crecca’s talk, veterans from Issaquah/Mt Si VFW Post #3234 and American Legion Post #79, along with U.S. Congresswoman Dr. Kim Schrier presented over seventy attending Vietnam veterans with the Vietnam War Commemorative Lapel Pin for their service during the Vietnam War era. Snoqualmie Tribal Council Chairman Robert de los Angeles, Treasurer Chris Castleberry and Martin Duarte from the Wounded Warrior Family Support organization presented Snoqualmie Valley veterans with a 2019 Ford Explorer that will serve as a courtesy vehicle for local veterans by providing complimentary transportation to basic services. The veterans’ transportation program will launch in the New Year and will be operated jointly by the Snoqualmie Tribe and Snoqualmie Casino. The event concluded with the Snoqualmie Tribe and Snoqualmie Casino honoring over 125 veterans with newly released Challenge Coins designed by tribal veterans and casino team members. For more information on this program, contact Tarah Smigun at firstname.lastname@example.org.