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Hopis Vote Down Gaming

20 May 2004

ARIZONA – (PRESS RELEASE) — Hopi voters went to the polls to voice their opposition to gaming for the second time in 10 years on Wednesday, May 19, 2004. With the final tally from the nine polling precincts across the reservation, the results were 1051 to 784, according to the Hopi Tribe's Elections Office. Hopi Tribal elections officials stated that there were 8,525 eligible Hopi voters.

The doors to a debate about gaming opened with the passage of Proposition 202 by Arizona voters in November 2002 when Arizona law was amended to give all Arizona tribes the option of transferring their slot machine rights among each other in exchange for compensation. The option offers non-gaming or rural small-market tribes an opportunity to earn gaming revenues without building casinos and allows current gaming tribes to move their slot machines into bigger market locations under what amounts to a lease agreement. Under the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and Arizona law, the Hopi Tribe has an allocation of 900 slot machines and can build up to three casinos, if and when, the tribe chooses to enter into a gaming compact with the State.

In 2003, the Hopi Gaming Task Team, comprised of members of the Hopi Tribal Council, was assigned the responsibility of analyzing the Tribe's options under Arizona's new gaming law and presenting their findings to the Hopi public both on and off the Hopi Reservation. The options placed before tribal members by the Task Team included doing nothing with the 900 slot machines, leasing the slot machines to other tribes, or building a casino using an optimum number of slot machines and leasing the remainder.

The Team gave their final public presentation at the Hopi Veteran's Memorial Center on May 17, 2004.

The Tribe's public information campaign stirred up a heated debated among the Hopi people pitting economic arguments against pleas for Hopi cultural survival. In 1995, Hopi people went to the polls and rejected gaming based upon similar arguments that gambling would destroy the fabric of Hopi culture and bring irreparable harm to its religious practices. Seventeen hundred Hopis went to the polls in April of 1995 and the results were 986 to 714.

"The Hopi Tribal government is based upon democratic principles. As a sovereign nation, it is the right of the Hopi people to determine their own destiny and they have once again voiced their opposition to gaming. The Tribe will support the decision of the people," stated Hopi Chairman Wayne Taylor Jr.

For more information, please contact Vanessa Charles at 928-734-3283 or Assistant General Counsel, Niccole Winship at 928-734-3140

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