Tribal Spirit of Giving: Operators, Suppliers and Organizations Working Together for a Higher Cause

Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Mobile Unit: Bringing Free Health Care to Thousands of People

Native Americans are more likely than any other racial/ethnic group to suffer from health disparities, and most Tribes are located on reservations in rural areas with limited access to health care. In Minnesota, where our Tribe is located, many members of our fellow Tribes must travel two hours to reach the nearest clinic, making it difficult and expensive to get the care they need.

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC), sought to help Native Americans who are struggling to receive health care. In 2007, we launched the SMSC Mobile Unit which brings free medical, dental and vision services to communities across Minnesota and the Midwest. The Mobile Unit offers free mammograms; diabetes education and screenings; dental cleanings, sealants and varnishes; eye exams; and more to individuals and families who cannot afford high-quality medical care.

The Mobile Unit doesn’t just provide health care – its team also provides support. All Mobile Unit team members receive cultural competency training, so they are ready to serve the specific populations and experiences of each community. Our team also collaborates with the Tribal Nation or clinic that provides follow-up services to patients who visit the Mobile Unit. This communication and special attention helps create trust between the patient and staff, so that patients have even better health outcomes.

Patients have shared that they appreciate how providers take the time to explain exams to them and treat them with respect. In fact, some have told us that they have decided to proceed with exams that they have avoided getting in the past because they feel comfortable with our providers.

Contact: Joanna Bryant, Wellness Administrator,  Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

BMM Test Labs: Increasing the Number of Native Americans in STEM Careers

An early contributor to Tribal Philanthropy has been BMM Testlabs and their Next Generation Initiative. For years NGI has supported Tribal organizations like The Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation, UNITY & American Indian Graduate Center, helping create a pathway for opportunities to these many underfunded groups.

Lead by Jodi DiLascio, Director Tribal Gaming, BMM began focusing efforts to grow STEM jobs in the Casino Gaming business by partnering with American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES) and developing an Internship Program to support AISES mission of increasing the number of Native Americans in STEM careers. Specifically helping to facilitate and foster a #NativeSTEM Casino Gaming career pipeline. The program has since gained traction among game manufacturers and has grown into a pipeline for getting Native Engineers learning about and working in Casino Gaming.

When asked, why a Game Manufacturer would want to join such a pipeline, Jodi says the answer is pretty simple, “Not why, but why not”? By tapping into an established network via AISES, casino game manufacturers and vendors are able to have delivered a talented pool of Native American STEM holders hungry for opportunity. “This is such a win-win for our industry partners and Native STEM degree holders looking to enter our industry.”

Contact: Jodi DiLascio, Director, Tribal Gaming / Associate Member Representative to the NIGA Board, BMM Testlabs, 

Spirit of Sovereignty: NIGA Associate Members Make College Possible for Young Native American Students

Education is the greatest need for young people in Indian Country. Scholarships make it possible. The Spirit of Sovereignty provides scholarships to deserving Native American students at 37 Tribal colleges and is a National Indian Gaming Association initiative. “The idea of giving back through the Spirit of Sovereignty originated with NIGA Associate Members,” said project coordinator David Garelick. “It is incredible how much impact this program has for motivated students who are changing the course of their individual, family and community futures.”

Charity Valentin is a great example. “It’s such a good feeling knowing that people you don’t even know want you to succeed and are rooting for you,” said Valentin, who is a member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. Thanks to Spirit of Sovereignty scholarship support, Charity was able to earn her associate’s degree in science and is pursuing a master’s degree in dental therapy.

“There are so many inspiring examples on our website ( of how much scholarships mean to students like Charity,” said Garelick. “All young people deserve the opportunity to see their dreams of higher education come true. We would encourage every NIGA associate member to contribute and be part of this life-changing program.”

Contact: David Garelick, Corporate Relations Officer, Spirit of Sovereignty,

Celebration of Honor: Chinook Winds Casino Resort

For fifteen years, Chinook Winds Casino Resort has organized the Celebration of Honor event that honors active-duty personnel, veterans and their families. September 18-21, 2019, Chinook Winds provides veterans and active military free buffets and free comedy show tickets. There is a special Oregon Veterans Medal Presentation that includes a custom-designed medal signifying Oregon’s appreciation for the service and sacrifice of Veterans. Many friends and family members of service men and women killed in action will post flags on behalf of their fallen, loved heroes. The Celebration of Honor includes: The Medal Presentation held at Field of Honor Memorial where 1,000 flags are placed behind our casino and overlook the ocean, the Oregon KIA Memorial Wall, ‘Wall of Honor’ (Iraq and Afghanistan), Living Military History Weapons Display, Uniform Display, and a special glass float drop along the beaches of Lincoln City, Oregon. We provide space for many veteran services to provide information and benefits to veterans and their families. We are lucky enough to include a life-size wood statue of the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima. Chinook Winds has worked with the City of Lincoln City to make it a city-wide community event with many local companies participating. It is hard to put into words the emotions one feels while looking upon the Field of Flags and listening to the stories of our Veterans.

Contact: Stephanie Hull, Public Relations Specialist, Chinook Winds Casino Resort,

Everi Cares Giving Module: Generating Over $700K in Donations

The Everi Cares Giving Module has quickly become another way that Everi supports their customer’s communities and patrons. Already a leader in promoting responsible gaming through their Everi Cares STeP program (self-exclusion) and contributions to responsible gaming efforts, they’ve recently burst into the market with a module that allows patrons to donate the change from their ticket vouchers on an Everi kiosk.

Adding this module to an Everi FSK presents the donation as a simple option during the normal ticket redemption process. The receiving charities are often local and regional organizations chosen by the casinos in their area, which allows properties another avenue to engage and provide benefit at the local level. This is especially true for Tribal casinos, whose impact on their community has a meaningful and lasting effect. For its work with Chickasaw Nation and the “Everi Cares Giving Module,” Everi Holdings was recognized as 2019 Associate Member of the Year by NIGA.

In addition to enhancing philanthropic programs, the program reduces escheatment of abandoned tickets, reduces coin handling expenses, and helps achieve a coinless environment. Since its inception, the module has generated over $700,000 in donations and saved over 19 million coins across 32 locations in the US, of which twenty-one are Tribal casinos.

Contact: Cameo Amato, Director, FinTech Products,

Native Strong Comedy Slam and Jam

Going into its sixth year, the annual Native Strong Comedy Slam & Jam was created as a fundraiser for the Notah Begay III Foundation (NB3F) by Native-owned, gaming and hospitality firm, Raving. This is one event of several that they organize to raise money to support the critically important work of the NB3 Foundation, ensuring Native children achieve their full potential by advancing cultures of Native American community health. The event will be hosted on Thursday, March 26, 2020, in the Gaslamp district of San Diego during the Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Expo. Organizers have added two new features: an artist-signed guitar auction provided by participating Tribal casinos, and now on the bill with Native American comics, an up-and-coming musician. Endorsed by NIGA and Chairman Stevens, hundreds of operators and suppliers have been entertained every spring.

Contact: Gency Warren, Marketing Manager, Raving,

Tribal Spirit of Giving Celebration January 2020: Recognizing Organizations That Give Back

Five years ago, Native-owned gaming and hospitality firm Raving began an industry movement, to recognize those Tribal organizations that give back to their communities. We ask Tribal organizations to share special events, acts of generosity, and good works that have improved the lives of their community.

How can you tell your story? Through a simple submission process, at no charge, we ask you to upload pictures and/or videos plus a short description about your Tribal organization’s good works. Submissions will open on October 1, 2019 and will close on December 6, where the website will be open to all readers to read the inspirational stories and cast votes for the submissions that moved them! Everyone is a winner.

Think about the very cool stuff you’ve done for your community (a get-fit class for your team members, a special veterans dinner, a fundraising event for the local food bank, a parkland clean-up … you get it).

We recognize all casinos that participated and share their stories in industry magazines. Plus, we celebrate at a special luncheon on Thursday, January 30, during Raving NEXT, hosted this year at Isleta Resort & Casino, Albuquerque, NM.

Contact: Gency Warren, Marketing Manager, Raving,

Christine Faria 30 Articles