Reggie Wassana, Governor, Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes

Reggie Wassana, Governor
Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes

Lucky Star Casino – Canton; Lucky Star Casino – Watonga; Lucky Star Casino Concho Travel Center; Lucky Star Casino – Concho; Lucky Star Casino – Clinton; and Lucky Star Casino – Hammon in Oklahoma

CHALLENGES/REWARDS: The economy is probably the greatest risk – not knowing if inflation will actually occur, and to what degree it will occur, because it affects tribal members on the food and fuel side. Yes, there is a risk every year with the economy, but now we are feeling the full effects of it. And when it does affect tribal members with the prices of fuel and food, they come back to the tribe and ask for assistance. We always try to help them the best we can, but sometimes when there is a lot of people who request assistance, it puts stress on program funds. That in itself is a risk.

An additional challenge is getting tribal members to pull in the same direction so that we can keep everything going positively, and so that we can continue to offer services and other benefits to our tribal members. That’s always the key – trying to assist our tribal members. When the economy isn’t going in a good direction – businesses, casinos and everything is affected, and people get stressed and can also have mental challenges. Right now, that is probably one of the biggest concerns. From month to month, we always want to take care of our elders with utility assistance and medical needs, and our young people with clothing and school supply allowances. We are always trying to do our best to keep the tribes in a positive, stable position.

PROMOTING LEADERSHIP: We try to give them support and bring them to the table in our management meetings. We try to ask for their input in how they would consider certain decisions that the tribe needs to make. We are always trying to give them a little bit more freedom to take charge of their own programs or the business areas that they are associated with.

For those who want to further their education, we have always allowed people to go back to school. We try to support our leaders and upper management people as best we can by bringing them to the table, supporting them in their decisions, getting them better educated and promoting from within. We want them to be responsible and to do their best to show positive productivity within the workplace and within the tribe.

INITIATIVES: We are opening a new El Reno Indian Health Center here in El Reno, OK, which is a great benefit for all of the people locally. We will have a grand opening next month. We always want to show improvement in our staffing with our audits. We’ve been having great audits, and we want to always continue that. We are also trying to put land into trust for future development so that we can develop more economic development businesses for our tribal members to create jobs and revenue. And we want to expand three casinos and have plans to build a travel plaza.

We are always trying to create a tribal ecosystem that will produce invaluable results for further generations. We are expanding our elder nutrition center and working to keep our elders healthy and flourishing, which is part of our goal so that they can be here longer and teach us and tell us those things that maybe the younger people don’t understand or know. We opened up two food pantries this year as well, which is good at this time because people can’t afford a lot of food, so they can go to food pantries and get some beef and some other things for their daily nutrition. We’ve tried to do a lot and create a lot to help our tribal members any way that we can.

As of January 1st, we are accepting applications for one eighth degree blood quantum applicants to become tribal members. Prior to that date, the tribe has always been one quarter. So that is new and will be interesting and move the population of the tribe. That will mean we need to create more businesses to generate more revenue so that we can help more people. We are going to have to strategically develop strong businesses in certain areas of our reservation in order to meet the needs of those one eighth degree blood quantum applicants that are going to come in as enrollees. We are doing a lot – from food and health to land acquisition.