Fueling our own economic destiny
As the new Director of the Bishop Paiute Development Corporation and a Bishop Paiute citizen, I am writing to correct misinformation in Mike Bodine’s July 3, 2015 story about the planned expansion of the Paiute Palace Casino.
We were surprised by the negative tone of the article that suggests our business development will “create minimum-wage service jobs and lead to an internecine war with local innkeepers in a competition for business.”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, the Bishop Paiute Tribe (and its multiple business enterprises) is the second largest employer in the Owens Valley. We provide jobs with good wages and generous benefits for more than 300 employees, and we have contributed more than $250 million to the Owens Valley economy in the last decade alone.
Our feasibility studies indicate that the Bishop Paiute Tribe’s casino and hotel expansion will bring long-term jobs with good wages and benefits. The expanded gaming facilities, business-class hotel, restaurants and conference center will bring more visitors for tourism, cultural events, conferences, weddings, tribal gatherings, gaming and recreation. An upscale development with amenities not currently available in Bishop will attract more business, not diminish it.
As former President of the Bishop Chamber of Commerce, I can assure you that the Bishop Paiute Tribe and its enterprises have enjoyed good relations with the local Chamber for more than two decades. I am perturbed by your suggestion that our business enterprises will create conflict. That is not how we operate. We’ve proven to be good employers and good neighbors, generously contributing to schools, community programs and social services that benefit all citizens of the Owens Valley. Our casino/hotel expansion will create many new jobs open not only to tribal citizens, but our neighbors as well.
Regarding the Napoles family’s claim to tribal land, it is clear the writer does not understand the legal status of Indian land. The Bishop Paiute reservation is owned collectively by the Tribe, not by individuals, and held in trust for the Tribe by the federal government. It is not fee simple land and no individual can own it. Thus, it is incorrect to say that the Napoles family’s land was “taken” or stolen. Under federal Indian law, the Tribe owns and assigns land for family use, and every sovereign Indian nation has the right to re-assign land based on its needs and for the benefit of its citizens.
Like citizens of a country or state, any person who resides on the Bishop Paiute reservation agrees to abide by its laws and legal agreements. The Napoles family signed legal agreements to exchange land parcels in 2006. A family member has settled into a new home while a few continue to make unrealistic claims long after the dispute was resolved. The legal settlement was disclosed years ago in tribal newsletters and reprinted in March 2014.
Our population and needs of our community continue to grow and, like other governments and businesses, the Bishop Paiute Development Corporation plans to expand our business enterprises to fund our growth. Fueling our own economic destiny to provide jobs, education, health care, and homes for our tribal citizens is a high priority for the Bishop Paiute Tribe.
Please be patient as we finalize plans for our casino/hotel expansion. We are being cautious about sharing preliminary information since financing and architectural plans are still in development. But we will soon be releasing more news about this exciting new expansion through media releases, community meetings, our web site, and the tribal newsletter.
We welcome your interest in our Tribe’s economic development plans, and I invite you to make an appointment to come visit us soon on the reservation. If you have further questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 760.872.4172.
Gloriana M. Bailey, MBA
Director, Bishop Paiute Development Corporation