Cowlitz Celebrates New Beginning With Casino Groundbreaking

Cowlitz Celebrates New Beginning With Casino Groundbreaking February 17, 2016 February 17, 2016 Paul Butcher
 General February 17, 2016 by Paul Butcher

Proposed Cowlitz CasinoThe groundbreaking ceremony of a new casino located near the La Center in the state of Washington was a momentous occasion for the Cowlitz tribe.

This is the first casino project for the tribe and is expected to bring the tribe self-reliance, jobs and economic growth.

The Cowlitz tribe was recognized by the federal government 16 years ago and received approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to take into federal trust around 152 acres of land west of the La Center.

The tribe had applied for the land by stating that it has ancient ties to it and wanted to convert it into a new Cowlitz reservation. When the tribe was awarded the land, it faced a lot of opposition from a number of parties who objected to the land allotment and the proposal to build a casino. The tribe subsequently fought a legal battle to be able to proceed with a casino and won the case in December 2014.


The Cowlitz tribe held a groundbreaking ceremony on the 14th of February and celebrations commenced with traditional tribal music. The community bought small tokens to bury keeping in with their ancient tradition of burying mementoes in the ground while establishing a new village and also signed a beam which would be used in the casino’s construction.

The event had around 500 attendees which included representatives from the offices of U.S. Senators, state legislators, city officials, state government officials, people living near the casino site, and leaders of the Cowlitz Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe of Indians. The Connecticut-based Mohegan Tribe is Cowlitz’s partner in the venture.

In a statement, Roy Wilson, a spiritual leader of the Cowlitz Tribe said,

I can’t find the words to express what I am feeling inside. We have just begun a great journey. … We came a long, long way, and we have a great future ahead of us.

The $510 million casino-resort is expected to have a gaming floor of over 100,000 sq.ft with 2,500 slot machines, 60 high-limit slot machines, 75 gaming tables and five high-limit tables, along with restaurants, conference rooms and a concert venue. The design of the casino is expected to reflect its heritage with elements of its culture like blunt-nosed canoe, camas flowers woven into a contemporary theme.

Although no injunction was issued against the construction of the casino at the site, the lawsuit against the allocation of the land to the tribe is still open as it is on appeal. Several groups who are opposed to the casino at the site have sued the tribe, questioning its ties to the area saying that the tribe’s interest in it is only due to its proximity to Portland. If everything goes as per plan, the Cowlitz tribe expects to open their new casino during the spring of 2017.

Paul ButcherAuthor

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