Due to be called Ilani, which means “sing” in the Cowlitz language, the 368,000 sq ft facility will be about 17 miles north of Portland, Oregon, and offer 2,500 slots and 80 gaming tables alongside 15 restaurants, bars and retail stores as well as a 2,500-seat meeting and entertainment venue.
“It is the memory of the songs we sang throughout the centuries on the long journey to this time and it means so much to us to know that in all of our songs we did not have a song for defeat so we never learned how to give up,” Tanna Engdahl, a spiritual leader for the Cowlitz Tribe, told Seattle radio station KUOW-FM.
The Cowlitz Tribe has faced opposition to its construction of a casino for almost a decade including a concerted effort from officials in Vancouver and Clark County. However, it persevered and broke ground on the venue in February after a lawsuit filed in a US District Court was dismissed with the tribe declaring that the development could bring up to 1,000 new jobs to the area.
“This is a culmination of 160 years, truly, of effort to get our land base but also to return an economic base for the future, a very prosperous future, of our Cowlitz people,” Cowlitz Tribe Chairman Bill Iyall told KUOW-FM.
April saw the Cowlitz Tribe sign a twelve-year agreement with the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, which operates the giant Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. The deal will see the eastern tribe’s Salishan-Mohegan LLC subsidiary provide $485 million in financing in exchange for the right to manage the new property’s operations.