Stephanie Bryan, Chairwoman, Poarch Band of Creek Indians

Stephanie Bryan, Chairwoman
Poarch Band of Creek Indians

Wind Creek Atmore – Atmore, AL; Wind Creek Bethlehem – Bethlehem, PA; Wind Creek Montgomery – Montgomery, AL; Wind Creek Wetumpka – Wetumpka, AL Wind Creek Curaçao – Curaçao; Wind Creek Aruba – Aruba; Wind Creek Chicago Southland (opening spring 2024) – East Hazel Crest, IL; Wa She Shu Casino (being sold to Washoe Development Corp July 1, 2023) – Carson Valley, NV

CHALLENGES/REWARDS: The pandemic may be officially over, but we continue to face real challenges in its aftermath that are significant and far-reaching. For example, the lingering need to care for Covid patients is a critical issue, and it’s essential that we assess the healthcare needs of both adults and children who have suffered long-term effects of the virus.

Our school-age children were at home for almost two years without the structure, educational instruction, and socialization that school provides, and understanding the short and long-term implications of that is hugely important to us. We are working to assess their needs and ensure that they receive the support they need to catch up, move forward, and thrive. Hiring more staff to assist with the needs of our elders and children is a positive step, and it’s important that we continue to prioritize their care. The increase in mental healthcare needs and addiction treatment are also significant, and we must work to provide resources and support to those who are struggling. Finding solutions to these challenges is not easy, but we are committed to working together and prioritizing the needs of our community, and I believe we can meet the challenges head on. Through it all, we have learned the importance of continuing to support one another and work collectively towards a brighter future.

When I think of the rewards we are reaping this year, I would have to say starting construction on our own meat processing plant is one of them. Covid made us realize that there were potential threats to our food supply, so we pushed to have a meat processing plant that will provide services to our own Perdido River Farms cattle operations and the surrounding agricultural community. We saw that it was essential for us to be proactive and lead the way in sustainable, local food production if we and our neighbors were to have the resources we needed. This is a step towards self-sufficiency that will ensure our community has access to fresh, healthy food. I also think it would make our ancestors very proud.

Also on the rewards side, our gaming businesses are doing well and we are opening a beautiful big addition to Wind Creek Bethlehem. I am really excited about that and glad it will continue to offer great entertainment in that community, as well as support jobs for the folks who live in and around Bethlehem, PA.

PROMOTING LEADERSHIP: We did it with purpose and a plan. We created a “career path forum” that includes a very structured, well thought out mentor/protégé program designed to identify and develop rising leaders. It is essential that we train the next generation to carry on our values of integrity and respect, as well as our work ethic. By investing in our future leaders, we are ensuring that our community will continue to thrive for generations to come. We are committed to prioritizing the development of our young people and to providing them with the resources and support they need to succeed. 

FUTURE PROJECTS/INITIATIVES: Our sovereignty is constantly being attacked, and it’s essential that as leaders, we take action to protect our lands and our community’s future. One way to do this is by involving the younger generation in the fight on a national level so that they understand both the history, the current political environment, and the critical need to continue the fight in the future. By educating and empowering our young people, we are ensuring that our community’s sovereignty and rights are protected for generations to come.

Our gaming businesses, that have provided us with needed revenues to run our tribal government and have given us financial security, continue to do well. We have expanded into the greater Chicago market and will open Wind Creek Chicago Southland in the second quarter of 2024. The 70,000 sq. ft. casino will feature 1,350 slot machines, 56 table games, entertainment, dining, a 252-room luxury hotel, and will bring 800 jobs to the south suburban region. Wind Creek has a proven track record of success in developing high-quality, successful casino and entertainment projects, and we are excited about this project in Chicago.

We also recently acquired an existing casino property in Miami, FL, and are getting to know that incredibly interesting, diverse community and our great customers in that market. We are really excited to bring the Wind Creek brand of excellence in hospitality and tourism to that property and community.

Additionally, we made a decision some years back to invest in a diversified business plan because we believe that it is crucial to weathering economic downturns and to ensuring a sound and stable financial future for our community for years to come. But at the end of the day, sovereignty is at the center of our ability to continue as a thriving tribal nation. We must continue to prioritize the protection of our sovereignty for the future of our community and subsequent generations of Poarch Band of Creek Indians.