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Officials Defend Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s Refusal to Make Donations Public

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The Coeur d'Alene Press (The Press) reported on August 13 that for the past two years, the Coeur d'Alene Tribe has not made contributions to local school districts in defiance of its gaming compact with the state of Idaho. The agreement mandates that the tribe support education programs with a contribution of 5 percent of its annual net gaming income.

Coeur d'Alene spokesman Helo Hancock responded to the article's accusation by email to The Press, published August 19. He stated that the tribe has made its required contributions for fiscal years 2009, 2010 and 2011. Still, he would not disclose to whom the funds were distributed. “We chose not to do a public ceremony or announcement the last few years—partly because of complaints we got from some schools that others were getting larger donations (when they were made more public)—which is sad,” Hancock wrote in an email to the newspaper.

For the last time in July 2009, the tribe held a ceremony announcing its $1.8 million donation to local education agencies. At that time, the tribe revealed it had donated $12 million total for education.

The Idaho Lottery Director Jeff Anderson has also defended the tribe's compliance with its gaming compact with Idaho. "I consider them good stewards of their gaming activities and generous neighbors to the communities on or near the reservation as well as to other good causes," wrote Anderson, in an email sent to The Press.

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No one at the state government level or Idaho Department of Education could confirm to The Press whether the tribe had met its required education disbursements.