Erma J. Vizenor, Published February 21 2012
Bold idea all wins for Minnesota
The same is true with ideas. The bolder the idea, the more nurturing it takes. The proposal by the White Earth Nation to launch MinnesotaWins, a business partnership with the state of Minnesota to build a Twin Cities casino, is a very bold proposal. Yet it is the only plan that offers a win-win-win – for a new stadium or other state priorities; for economic opportunities for all Minnesotans, especially in our northwest region; and, for the White Earth Nation, the state’s largest and poorest tribe. The plan will create enormous benefits for all Minnesotans:
- The Legislature and governor ultimately will decide how best to use the state’s share of the revenue, and some will disagree on whether to use the money to fund a Vikings stadium or to focus on other priorities that are in need of new spending. One notion gaining interest in the Legislature is to use a portion of the casino revenue to pay back the schools for the years of borrowing to balance the state budget. The use of the revenue will be sorted out in good time.
- MinnesotaWins is the only Vikings funding solution that keeps all of the money and jobs in Minnesota. More than that, it is the only proposal that creates new construction jobs – up to 2,000 to build the casino – in addition to those created by the new stadium.
- The proposal is consistent with the intent of tribal gaming. Will there be challenges to a White Earth-state casino? Of course. Every new gaming option will be challenged. But our proposal is consistent with the intent of tribal gaming. It is consistent with the Minnesota Constitution. And, most important, it is the right thing to do for Minnesota taxpayers and for the White Earth Nation. Our people need the chance for economic development.
In December, we presented this plan to a legislative committee. It caused little more than a ripple.
What has happened in two months?
- Legislation creating a White Earth-state of Minnesota casino has been introduced in the legislature with bipartisan support. One of the authors, Rep. Kent Eken, D-Twin Valley, told the news media that our plan has the best chance of any stadium funding proposal. “This is the proposal that has the potential for gaining the greatest traction,” according to Rep. Eken.
- Community leaders in northwest Minnesota are offering support. Detroit Lakes passed a city resolution supporting the plan, pointing out that the “economic well-being of the city of Detroit Lakes and the entire northwest Minnesota region is directly tied to the economic well-being of the White Earth Band …”
- A Twin Cities news conference to formally launch the plan Thursday (Feb. 16) attracted significant coverage from major news outlets in the metro area and throughout the state. More than a dozen reporters and television cameras were on hand to hear about our plan, about the needs of northwest Minnesota and the economic challenges facing White Earth.
- And, since announcing the plan publicly, decision-makers are calling us, asking for more information and offering their support. We have heard from city and county officials in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, legislators and others.
Certainly, there is much to be done before we have a successful harvest. There will be those who criticize us for not having a crop even before the growing season is completed. And, we know there will be challenges ahead.
But we also see this: The seeds we planted are starting to sprout their shoots. And they are coming in strong and plentiful.
Vizenor is chairwoman, White Earth Nation.