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Yurok Tribe Votes to Put Settlement Funds Toward First Hotel and Casino


Members of the Yurok Tribe have voted in favor of a special referendum to distribute funds secured in the Nez Perce v. Salazar settlement, as well as use the money as an investment in the Tribe’s first hotel and casino.

The unofficial elections results concluded 1,016 voted in favor and 642 opposed, a press release states. The voter turnout was 56 percent. The Elections Committee will certify the results Monday.

“I view this vote to be a mandate from the tribal membership to move forward on the hotel and casino plan,” said Chairman Thomas O’Rourke Sr. “We are on the path to economic self sufficiency. The regional economic security we seek to create will only bolster our sovereignty. I am very pleased to announce that this project will create many job opportunities for our tribal members in the months to come, starting as early as the end of March.”

The tribe received $27.5 million from the Nez Perce settlement. The referendum provides for a per capita distribution of $1,000 for Tribal members below the age of 18, $3,500 for Tribal members 18 to 59 years old and $4,500 for Tribal members 60 years of age or older, as of January 9, 2013.

The remaining funds will enable the Yurok Tribe to finance and construct a tribally owned hotel and modest casino, which will be located on the Yurok Reservation in Klamath. The Yurok Tribe has worked for the better part of a decade on the project. Multiple economic studies were performed by consulting firms and the architectural design plans are complete.

The hotel/casino project is part of larger economic vision to capitalize on the Redwood National Park and Klamath River tourism market. Every year vacationers spend more than $100 million in Del Norte County, according to the California Travel and Tourism Commission. The Yurok Reservation, located on the Klamath River, sits in the center of some of the last old growth redwoods—the main draw for visitors to the area.

The Yurok Reservation has a high level of unemployment rate of approximately 30 percent. In the northern parts of the reservation, the unemployment rate is close to 80 percent. This project is projected to create approximately one hundred jobs for the tribal membership and local community.

In addition to the resort project, a Yurok Justice Center, along with a Yurok Visitor’s Center, and a cultural knowledge park and amphitheatre will be constructed this spring. Tribal members interested in working on these much needed projects are encouraged to contact the Yurok Tribe’s TERO office at (707) 482-1350.