Northern Quest Kalispel Tribe

The Basic Needs of the Kalispel Tribe

Want to know how much Northern Quest makes annually? It’s a very big number but technically private information that the Kalispel Tribe has no obligation to share with a wider populace.

Want to know how many enrolled Kalispel Tribal citizens there are? It’s a very small number, and they get to split that very big number they milk from their cash-cow, Northern Quest.

The Kalispel Tribe is suing the United States Department of the Interior in an effort to stop the Spokane Tribe’s new casino from opening. Funny thing about lawsuits; they’re public information, accessible to anyone.

About two hundred forty-seven million dollars (that’s $247,000,000) – a cool quarter-billion – is how much annual revenue Northern Quest generates according to the lawsuit the Kalispel Tribe wrote.

That quarter billion is split between 470 enrolled Kalispel Tribal citizens in the form of government services and per capita payments. In case you’re wondering, that’s about $526,000 gross revenue per person per year. Of course, we must deduct expenses out, but we’ll get there.

In their lawsuit, the Kalispel Tribe shared several arguments fit for further discussion. For instance, if the Spokane Tribe’s casino opens, the Kalispel Tribe would struggle, they claim, “…to care for its elders, to provide children with educational opportunities, and to provide services and programs to its members.” Additionally, the 470 citizens of the Kalispel Tribe still suffer from “…economically related social problems, including unemployment, lack of housing, and substance abuse.”

I’ll save the argument about whether all that Northern Quest money – a quarter billion annually – is enabling unemployment and substance abuse for another post. In the meantime, according to the Kalispel Tribe’s very own argument, the Spokane Tribe’s casino will reduce Northern Quest’s annual revenue by, “41.5%, or $102.8 million.”

Thus, the Kalispel Tribe is quite explicitly arguing that $145,000,000 per year in annual revenue isn’t enough for their 470 citizens. At the same time, let’s not forget how much annually in governmental grants the Kalispel Tribe still applies for and wins – about 15% of their annual budget, according to what they wrote in the lawsuit. Northern Quest provides the other 85%. That’s an additional $43,000,000 in annual government grant funding to the Kalispel Tribe.

A quarter billion in annual revenue goes a long way toward providing government services. In addition to the basics, like public safety, Northern Quest underwrites “…per capita and elder payments to cover basic needs not covered by other programs or members’ income.” For instance, the Kalispel Tribe provides all-expense paid trips for its elders – exotic cruises, Disneyland, San Diego, you name it. They have box suites at Gonzaga and the Arena, elders eat for free at Quest, and the list goes on and on. If the new casino down the road opens, the Kalispels are arguing that “basic needs” like this may not be met.

The Kalispel Tribe disperses nearly $3,000 every quarter in per capita payments to all 470 citizens, and they disperse about $3,200 monthly in payments to their elders – sure beats social security. If the casino down the road opens, the lawsuit argues, their “per capita and elder payments” will be in jeopardy.

Most of all, what the Kalispels’ lawsuit argues is their expectation that the federal government guarantee their monopoly on the metro’s gaming market – to the tune of $247,000,000 per year – and they build their arguments based on playing the poverty card. There ain’t nothing wrong with big per capita payments, exotic cruises, box suites, great perks, and earning $247,000,000 in annual revenue.

There is something wrong, however, with crying poverty while making $247,000,000 per year. There is something wrong when you expect the home tribe to sacrifice so you can maintain the lavish spending. There’s something wrong when you ask the feds to disallow direct competition in the same market (which is downright un-American). And there’s a whole lot wrong about spending all that money on lawsuits, attorneys, consulting firms, experts, and local payoffs in an effort to stop the home tribe’s casino when you could have been spending all that money on yourselves.

For your viewing pleasure, here’s the full lawsuit written and filed by the Kalispel Tribe to try and stop the Spokane Tribe’s new casino.

Word is the Spokane County Commissioners are also preparing to file suit in an effort to stop the Spokane Tribe’s casino, which is sure to be a work of great fiction. At the least Kalispels have the integrity to spend their own money to underwrite their casino-stopping-lawsuits, because the Spokane County Commissioners are spending yours.

For even more context about Northern Quest (and the local good ‘ol boys that protect it), see The Fallacies Money Can Buy.