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Hopi Tribe Rejects Proposed Casino

April 12, 1995

KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz. (AP) _ The Hopis, one of the most traditional Indian tribes, roundly defeated a proposal to build a casino on their land near the Painted Desert.

Tribe members voted Tuesday 986-660 to oppose the casino at Winslow off Interstate 40, which carries thousands of motorists a day across northern Arizona.

``It was a loud and clear message that culture is more important and more valuable than the money,″ said tribe Chairman Farrell Secakuku.

Gambling has generated millions for some impoverished Indian groups, and officials estimated it could generate $15 million a year for the Hopis and create up to 600 jobs.

But it was a divisive issue in the Hopi villages on windswept mesas above the Painted Desert.

Debate centered on how gambling would affect a people who adhere to an intensely private religion dominated by a yearly cycle of ceremonial dances and rites in underground rooms called kivas.

``A lot of people are afraid young people would run away from ceremonies in the kivas and go gambling in Winslow instead,″ said Tommy Canyon, manager of a village store.

Turnout was unusually high on the reservation 190 miles northeast of Phoenix. In 1993, only 800 Hopis cast ballots when the tribe updated its constitution.

Secakuku said the 10,000-member tribe, which still needs revenue and jobs, now will look to its taxing authority.

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