Tribal Gaming Pioneer Josephine Jackson Walks On

Josephine Jackson, a pioneer in Indian gaming for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, walked on March 19.

Josephine Jackson, who held a number of positions with the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, walked on at the age of 76 on Monday, March 19.

She was partially responsible for improving economic development on the Isabella Indian Reservation by bringing bingo to the tribe. She was part of a group that traveled to Florida in 1981 to see how the Seminole Tribe ran its bingo operation, reported the Morning Sun.

What started as a small bingo operation in the tribal gymnasium has become the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mount Pleasant, Michigan and the Saganing Eagles Landing Casino in Standish, Michigan.

“She was always looking for a way to enhance the revenue for the tribe,” long-time friend Bonnie Sprague, who now is the general manager of the Soaring Eagle Waterpark, slated to open in late spring, told the Morning Sun.

Jackson, the daughter of Thomas and Beatrice (Davis) Pierce, was born on December 23, 1935 in Flint, Michigan. On January 25, 1954 she married Willis Jackson in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. She worked for the State of Michigan in Vocational Rehabilitation services, and was the general manager of the Soaring Eagle Casino in the early 1980s.

Jackson will be missed by many, the evidence of that can be seen on the Clark Family Funeral Chapel website where people can leave tributes and condolences for Jackson’s family.

“She was a grand lady...always concerned with the tribe and how things could be better. I loved laughing with her through the years. Such good times,” reads one by Cathy Chamberlain.

National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens Jr. had this to say:

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Josephine Jackson, who worked for many years on behalf of not only the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan, but for the advancement of the Indian gaming industry, as we know it today.

Josephine represented the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan, as the council secretary, which was one of the eight tribes in 1985 that came together in Florida to discuss how they were going to protect gaming on Indian lands that resulted in the creation of the National Indian Gaming Association. She was elected as the first NIGA secretary. Josephine was part of those tribal leaders that established the core principles and vision of NIGA that we continue to carry on.

As we pause to reflect on Josephine, during this time of loss, let us also remember her family, three children, 12 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren; two brothers and four sisters, as well as the Saginaw Chippewa people.”