TOPEKA — The Oklahoma-based Delaware Tribe could pursue casino operations in Kansas, but it also has a broader vision of increasing its presence in the state to provide services to Native Americans, a tribe official said.
In an “open letter to the people of Kansas,” Chief Paula Pechonick said Saturday she wanted to address speculation about the tribe’s plans since it recently bought 90 acres in North Lawrence along the Kansas Turnpike. Lands north of the Kansas River were the Delaware Tribe’s last home before they were forced to move into Oklahoma after the Civil War.
The Delaware Tribe’s efforts in Kansas have drawn opposition from the federally recognized tribes of Kansas, which all have casinos.
Leaders of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas, the Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska and Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska said in a recent resolution that if the Delaware Tribe is successful in starting a casino in northeast Kansas it would cause “significant economic hardship” to the Kansas tribes.
Pechonick said a casino may be a possibility because “no tribe would ever take gaming off the table as a viable option as long as it is legally available.”
But, she said, gambling is “nothing more than a means to an end, which provides our Tribe the resources to strengthen our community and bring up the lives of our people.”
The Delaware Tribe wants a future in Kansas and designation of a service area, Pechonick said.
“Aside from social and infrastructure services, the Tribe is focused on the economic impact to communities through job creation, support of small businesses and investment in community projects,” she said.
Steve Cadue, chairman of the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas, said he believes the Delaware want to build a casino and if they are allowed to, other tribes may also want to set up operations in Kansas.
“There is no doubt more than the Delaware Tribe would be interested in casino revenue in Kansas,” he said.