From Enterprise Staff
The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas secured its 100th formal statement of support from a business, civic or governmental group on Oct. 24 when the Port Arthur City Council passed a resolution supporting the tribe. The first resolution of support was approved in March 2018 by the All Pueblo Council of Governors.
The tribe began gathering the statements to demonstrate support in Texas for its citizens and for the right to offer electronic bingo at Naskila Casino. At the time, the State of Texas was attempting to shut down Naskila Casino through the court system, but that effort ultimately proved unsuccessful in 2022, when the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the tribe’s right to offer electronic bingo.
“We are grateful for the support we have received from elected officials, community leaders and our fellow Texans,” Ricky Sylestine, Chairman of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas Tribal Council, said. “These groups have met with us to learn more about our tribe and our contributions to East Texas. We are proud to be part of this community and to enjoy such positive, productive relationships with our many neighbors and friends.”
The second largest employer in Polk County, Naskila Casino is responsible for 825 local jobs, about 400 of which are at the facility, and $212 million in annual economic activity, according to a study from the Texas Forest Country Partnership.
The groups approving resolutions of support have included city councils, county commissioner courts, chambers of commerce and political organizations. Resolutions have often noted the tribe’s contributions to the community, such as the help provided to neighbors after Hurricane Harvey and the college scholarships offered to tribal citizens after they graduate high school.
“The resolutions from our neighbors are very helpful as we advocate for ourselves before legislators at the state and federal levels,” Sylestine said. “We are proud to show that our community supports us and understands the importance of Naskila Casino to our regional economy.”
Currently, advocates of the tribe are pushing for the U.S. Congress to approve the Tribes of Texas Equal and Fair Opportunity Act, which is legislation that Congressman Morgan Luttrell has introduced to ensure that two Texas tribes – the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas and Ysleta del Sur Pueblo in El Paso – are regulated under the same federal structure as other tribal nations that offer gaming on their lands.
“I’m proud to be a supportive voice in Congress for the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, working to protect the economic well-being and sustainability of the tribe and the reservation,” Luttrell said. “I’ll continue working with my colleagues in a bipartisan, bicameral way to invest in the Alabama-Coushatta community by enhancing economic opportunity and fostering the relationship between the tribe and fellow Texans.”