The Kalispel Tribe of Indians has entered into a land dispute with Airway Heights City Council, after the latter organization unanimously approved a resolution to reduce emergency services to a casino and developments owned by the Tribe.
The Council cited $1.5m in missing payments over the past three years that it says has subsidized Tribal operations. The Kalispel Tribe took issue with Airway Heights' position on Tuesday, saying it has provided $1.1m over the past five years as per the term of its Tribal-state compact.
This compact authorized operations of the Northern Quest Resort & Casino, which opened in 2000. The Washington State-based Tribe has countered Airway Heights’ claims by saying it has failed to “provide services the Kalispel has contracted and paid for.”
Kalispel Tribe Director of Public Relations Julie Holland commented: “The failure of the City to provide contracted services refers to multiple agreements we are not at liberty to discuss in detail."
An agreement signed by both parties in 2006 gave the Tribe 250 acres of land for residential and commercial use in the West Plains. In exchange, the Tribe pledged $400,000 to Airway Heights and Spokane County to cover the cost of emergency services and street maintenance in the area.
However, Airway Heights claims it has a ‘memorandum of understanding’ with the Tribe, dating back to 1996 which states it is required to pay the city roughly $375,000 to “mitigate the impacts of its gaming operations.”
However, the Kalispel Tribe’s statement said the sides were working toward an agreement until Airway Heights approved its resolution. The statement further claims the Council is trying to “circumvent this process,” and is “using public threats to extract disputed payments from the Tribe.”