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Here is a round up of business news from around Indian Country. 

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Economic development

• Citing anonymous sources, cannabis trade publication Leafly reported that the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation plans to open a more than 25,000-square-foot “mega-dispensary” next year near the tribe’s Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Conn. The dispensary could add to the tribe’s attractions in southeastern Connecticut, which include a golf course, movie theater, retail, spas and restaurants. Citing a source who is working with the tribe, the publication noted the dispensary will feature drive-thru windows and a smoking lounge. The move follows Connecticut legalizing adult-use cannabis this year. The same source is also working with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians on a similarly sized dispensary project near Harrah’s Cherokee resort in western North Carolina. 

Finance

• Albuquerque, N.M.-based accounting firm REDW LLC will host the annual Tribal Finance & Leadership Conference Nov. 3-4 at Muscogee Nation’s River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa, Okla. The sessions for the 12th annual conference will address topics including American Rescue Plan Act project planning, taxation, effective cash and wealth management, the future of the workforce, remote working, and cybersecurity, according to a statement. Speakers include author and consultant Priya Parker and IllumiNative founder and Executive Director Crystal Echo Hawk (Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma). The cost to attend is $995 if registered before Oct. 6 and $1,045 afterward. To register and for more information, visit this link

Energy

• Tracey LeBeau, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, was named administrator and CEO of Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) of the U.S. Department of Energy. LeBeau is the first woman and first Native American to lead WAPA, according to a statement. Since March, LeBeau has served as acting administrator and has been a senior executive within WAPA for more than seven years. In the new role, LeBeau is responsible for managing DOE’s largest power marketing administration, which markets an average of 25,000 gigawatt-hours of power generated by 57 hydroelectric dams across a 15-state footprint. WAPA also operates more than 17,000 miles of high-voltage transmission. “Tracey LeBeau is an extremely-qualified selection to serve as the seventh Administrator and CEO of the Western Area Power Administration,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. “I look forward to her steady leadership and dedication on team DOE as we work to deliver more clean energy options to Americans across the country while tackling the climate crisis head on.” 

Philanthropy

• Vicky Stott (Ho-Chunk Nation) will serve as the new chair of the board at Native Americans in Philanthropy. Stott serves as a program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and works with the foundation’s Racial Equity, Community Engagement & Leadership team. “Native Americans in Philanthropy is at an unprecedented and exciting stage of growth,” CEO Erik Stegman said in  a statement. “I’m honored to partner with Vicky in her new leadership role and to have the experience we have on our board to support this critical growth.” The organization also welcomed five new board members: 

• Eileen Briggs (Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe), a grantmaking director of the Bush Foundation who focuses on Native American communities across all programs

• Tony Johnson (Chinook Indian Nation), a program officer for the Group Health Foundation who works on relationship building in communities across Washington

• Emily Edenshaw (Yup’ik/Iñupiaq), the president and CEO of the Alaska Native Heritage Center, a cultural organization dedicated to advancing Alaska Native cultures and traditions

• Michael Painter (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma), a physician, attorney, and advocate and managing director of programs at Nia Tero, a U.S.-based nonprofit that supports the rights and livelihoods of Indigenous peoples

• Theresa Sheldon (Tulalip Tribes), the director of the Democratic National Committee’s Native American Coalitions

Real estate

• The Colville Tribal Federal Corporation plans to develop a 640-acre property it owns near Azwell, Wash. with a new casino resort, golf course and concert venue, according to a press release published in the Quad City Herald. The property, which has views of the Columbia River, will also feature 100 residential units. The tribe said the attraction to the so-called MA-18 property stems from CTFC holding the master lease to use and develop the entire site. Previously, CTFC had challenges at its Manson, Wash. casino location because fractionated ownership prevented the company from using the property “to its fullest,” according to the report. CTFC also operates casinos in Omak and Coulee Dam. 

Broadband

• The Federal Communications Commission’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau has granted an additional six spectrum licenses to tribal entities in Alaska. The licenses will allow the Alaska Native communities to deploy 5G and other advanced wireless services, according to a statement. The licenses stemmed from applications the tribal entities filed during the 2.5 GHz band Rural Tribal Priority Window, which was open to federally recognized tribes from February through September 2020. Historically, the 2.5 GHz band spectrum licenses were reserved for educational institutions. The FCC offered the licenses to tribes for free under the Rural Tribal Priority Window. To date, the agency has granted 270 licenses to tribal entities.

Cultural arts

• Monica Buckle, a Cherokee Nation citizen, was selected as deputy executive director and assistant curator of fine arts for the Camp Verde, Ariz.-based Verde Valley Archaeology Center and Museum, according to a report in the Cherokee Phoenix. Buckle will facilitate “a Native dialogue for the representation of Indigenous subject matter with her cultural knowledge and inter-tribal sensitivity,” according to the report. Previously, Buckle served as visual arts coordinator at the American Indian Community House in New York City.

Gaming

• The Pascua Yaqui Tribe has partnered with Las Vegas-based Scientific Games Corp. (Nasdaq: SGMS) to use its OpenSports betting platform at Casino Del Sol and Casino of the Sun, the tribe’s gaming ventures both located in Tucson, Ariz. The platform will power the tribe’s SolSports sportsbook, which will be available in a retail format and via self-service kiosks. “In launching our first sportsbook, we partnered with Scientific Games due to their technical expertise,” said Casino Del Sol CEO Kimberly Van Amburg. “The OpenSports solution is a robust and scalable platform that can withstand all the pressures associated with major sporting events, while providing customers with an extensive range of markets. We are confident our guests will enjoy the new SolSports sportsbook and we can’t wait to go live later this year.”

• Six California-based tribes — the Cahto Tribe of the Laytonville Rancheria, the Ewiiaapaayp Band of Kumeyaay Indians, the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians, the Resighini Rancheria, the Sherwood Valley Rancheria of Pomo Indians and the Table Mountain Rancheria — have approved new gaming compacts with the state. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the tribal-state compacts last week. The agreements reflect “the Governor’s and the tribes’ mutual commitment to a strong and respectful government-to-government relationship, and to promoting tribal economic development, tribal self-sufficiency and a strong tribal government,” according to a statement from Newsom’s office. The compacts also include a tribal commitment to revenue sharing with non-gaming tribes via the Revenue Sharing Trust Fund and the Tribal Nation Grant Fund “so that the economic benefits of gaming extend to all tribal governments in California.”

• The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe opened a retail sportsbook at the Towaoc, Colo.-based Ute Mountain Casino Hotel on Aug. 24. The sportsbook, located at the entrance of the casino floor, is powered by International Game Technology PLC’s PlaySports platform. The tribe also said the project will “establish a beachhead” for mobile sports betting via the UteBet app. “This passion project has been our best-kept secret over the past year, as we’ve persevered through the global pandemic and brought together all the moving parts in order to make this happen,” Ute Mountain Casino General Manager Rick Scheer said in a statement. The retail sportsbook includes 16 large-screen TVs and a LED display, plus a variety of relaxed seating. Players can place bets at three betting stations, several self-service kiosks and a designated cage for large bets. 

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