Hopi tribe last in the state to sign gaming compact

Monday, 04 December 2017, 12:20:16 PM. Tribal Chairman Herman Honanie and Gov. Doug Ducey signed the agreement on Thursday. The tribe was the 22nd and last to ink such a deal in Arizona.

Facing an "uncertain financial future" triggered by the looming closure of the Navajo Generating Station, the Hopi tribe has signed a 20-year gaming compact with the state.

Tribal Chairman Herman Honanie and Gov. Doug Ducey signed the agreement — which allows the tribe to operate or lease up to 900 machines used for gaming — on Thursday. 

The tribe was the 22nd and last to ink such a deal in Arizona. 

“I believe providing opportunities and a path to prosperity for our People is of the highest importance,” Honanie said in a statement. "Having a gaming compact gives our Tribe the opportunity to generate millions of dollars in much-needed revenue."

The Navajo Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant in Northern Arizona, could close as early as 2019. The reverberations from shuttering the plant could financially devastate the Hopi tribe, which has about 15,000 members. 

Charlotte Begay, 64, of Shonto, Ariz., breaks up coal Charlotte Begay, 64, of Shonto, Ariz., breaks up coal with a pickaxe at the public loadout facility at the Kayenta Mine on Feb. 4, 2017. The mine's sole customer is the Navajo Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant near Page, Ariz. If the power plant shuts down it not only would impact plant workers, but coal miners as well.  Mark Henle/The RepublicGary Benally of Chinle, Ariz., tosses a piece of coal Gary Benally of Chinle, Ariz., tosses a piece of coal at the public loadout facility in the Kayenta Mine, Ariz., on Feb. 4, 2017. The Navajo and Hopi tribes in northeast Arizona depend on the free coal provided by the mine's operator, Peabody Energy of St. Louis.  Mark Henle/The RepublicMembers of the Navajo and Hopi tribes gather free coal Members of the Navajo and Hopi tribes gather free coal at the Kayenta Mine in Black Mesa, Ariz. The mine ships 240 rail cars of coal every day to the Navajo Generating Station. Together, the mine and the power plant employ 750 workers. With the future of the plant uncertain, many are wondering what will happen to the region's economy if the plant shuts down.  Mark Henle/The RepublicVangie Thomas of Navajo, New Mexico, checks the quality Vangie Thomas of Navajo, New Mexico, checks the quality of a piece of coal at the Keyenta Mine in Black Mesa, Ariz., on Feb. 4, 2017.  Mark Henle/The RepublicDarryl Sahmea (right) searches for quality pieces of Darryl Sahmea (right) searches for quality pieces of coal at the Kayenta Mine in Black Mesa, Ariz., on Feb. 4, 2017. Many Hopi and Navjo tribe members rely on the free coal to heat their homes with coal stoves in the winter months.  Mark Henle/The RepublicSome people drive hundreds of miles for the free coal Some people drive hundreds of miles for the free coal provided at the Kayenta Mine by the mine's operator, Peabody Energy of St. Louis. Pickup trucks dot the landscape at the public coal loadout facility on Feb. 4, 2017.  Mark Henle/The RepublicIda Slim of Black Mesa, Ariz. fills her truck with Ida Slim of Black Mesa, Ariz. fills her truck with coal from the Kayenta Mine on Feb. 4, 2017.  Mark Henle/The RepublicWalton Polewyteta of Moenkopi, Ariz. carries a large Walton Polewyteta of Moenkopi, Ariz. carries a large piece of coal at the Kayenta Mine in Black Mesa, Ariz., on Feb. 4, 2017.  Mark Henle/The RepublicFour-month-old Fernando Joe of Pinon, Ariz. sits in Four-month-old Fernando Joe of Pinon, Ariz. sits in the cab of his family’s truck on Feb. 4, 2017, at the public coal loadout facility in the Kayenta Mine.  Mark Henle/The RepublicThe Kescoli and Aguilar families, from Round Rock, The Kescoli and Aguilar families, from Round Rock, Ariz., gather coal from the public loadout facility at the Kayenta Mine in Black Mesa, Ariz.  Mark Henle/The RepublicAl Lomayestewa carries a large piece of coal back to Al Lomayestewa carries a large piece of coal back to his truck at the public loadout facility at the Kayenta Mine. Peabody Energy, the mine's operator, allows tribe members to take coal for free. Many rely on the free coal to hit their homes during the winter.  Mark Henle/The RepublicMaurice George sells coal he gathered from the Kayenta Maurice George sells coal he gathered from the Kayenta Mine on a corner in Tuba City, Ariz., on Feb. 3, 2017.  Mark Henle/The RepublicA massive dragline bucket claws into rock at the Kayenta A massive dragline bucket claws into rock at the Kayenta Mine in Black Mesa, Ariz., on Feb. 4, 2017. The coal from Black Mesa powers the Navajo Generation Station, a coal-fired power plant in Page, Ariz.  Mark Henle/The RepublicDragline operator Chester Billy operates a massive Dragline operator Chester Billy operates a massive bucket at the Kayenta Mine. The mine ships 240 rail carss of coal every day to the Navajo Generating Station in Page, Ariz.  Mark Henle/The RepublicEnvironmental Manager Marie Shepherd speaks during Environmental Manager Marie Shepherd speaks during a meeting on Feb. 2, 2017, at the Kayenta Mine. The mine provides coal to the Navajo Generating Station in Page, Ariz. The coal-fired power plant ranks among the to;p in the country for carbon emissions.  Mark Henle/The RepublicLewis Pavinyama, a retired mine supervisor, built a Lewis Pavinyama, a retired mine supervisor, built a $30,000 backyard rodeo arena with money he made working at the mine for 40 years. He's pictured here in his arena outside of Kykotsmovi Village, Ariz., on Feb. 3, 2017.  Mark Henle/The RepublicA large dump truck carries coal through the Kayenta A large dump truck carries coal through the Kayenta Mine in Black Mesa, Ariz., on Feb. 4, 2017. The mine ships 240 rail cars of coal to the Navajo Generating Station every day.  Mark Henle/The RepublicEric Bronston, an environmental analyst, speaks during Eric Bronston, an environmental analyst, speaks during a meeting on Feb. 2, 2017, at the Kayenta Mine in Black Mesa, Ariz. The mine provides coal to the Navajo Generating Station. The power plant is responsible for haze over the Grand Canyon and other national parks.  Mark Henle/The Republic

Under the compact, the tribe can either own and operate machines on Hopi land or lease them to other tribal nations in the state. Currently, 16 Arizona tribes operate casinos while five have leasing agreements.

Tribal gaming brought in $1.9 billion from July 2016 through June 2016, according to the Arizona Department of Gaming. 

“With the prospect of the Navajo Generating Station closure on the horizon and the resulting significant loss of tribal jobs and programs, this Compact is the first major step for the Tribe to explore all of its options for future revenue,” said Verrin Kewenvoyouma, the attorney representing the tribe.

The compact awaits final approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

 

 

 

 

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