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Arizona Tribal Leaders Set Gaming Priorities

16 December 2003

ARIZONA – As reported by the Arizona Daily Star: "Tohono O'odham leaders will hold what tribal Chairwoman Vivian Juan-Saunders calls an unprecedented meeting next month to set priorities for spending the next 20 years' worth of gaming profits.

"Though the first 10 years of casinos in Southern Arizona have brought startling growth in services and independence to the once cash-starved Tohono O'odham, Juan-Saunders said the needs still far outstrip projected revenues.

"Given the fund shortage and the tribe's desire to become less dependent on federal funding, Juan-Saunders said, priorities for how to spend gaming money have to come from the people and the leaders of the reservation's 11 districts.

"…Juan-Saunders said she hopes to come out of the meeting with both an economic development plan that goes beyond gaming and a reaffirmation of the tribe's emphasis on education.

"…Diversification is the natural evolution for tribes, said Eileen Luna-Firebaugh, an associate professor in the University of Arizona's American Indian Studies Program.

"Gaming is an engine to drive economic development, Luna-Firebaugh said…"

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