Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Fri, Nov. 22

New Navajo casino opens in New Mexico

<i>Courtesy photo</i><br>
Kenny Johnson (in suit) with the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise stands in front of the Flowing Water Casino with a guest flute player and casino staff.

<i>Courtesy photo</i><br> Kenny Johnson (in suit) with the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise stands in front of the Flowing Water Casino with a guest flute player and casino staff.

HOGBACK, N.M. - After more than a decade of discussions, Flowing Water Casino, the Navajo Nation's second casino, opened its doors the public on Oct. 13. Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr., casino manager Titrisa Nez and a number of dignitaries and council delegates were on hand to celebrate. The building was designed by Navajo architecture firm Dyron Murphy for the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise (NNGE).

The 8,640 square-foot facility features bingo and 120 gaming machines. It is located on Navajo Nation Tribal Trust lands within the 22-acre Tse Daa K'aan (Hogback) chapter compound five miles east of Shiprock, N.M.

According to Robert Winter, NNGE CEO, the facility created 62 full-time positions, all filled by members of the Navajo and other local tribes. Ervin Keeswood, council delegate for the Hogback Chapter commented that the community is hopeful that revenues from the casino will help to boost the local economy. Since the Hogback Chapter is a Local Governance Act (LGA) certified chapter, it will get to keep a portion of casino earnings.

"What I want to see in our community is a certain amount of the money to stay here so we can build infrastructure, a public safety building, a fire station, pave our roads," he stated. "Things the entire community can benefit from."

Brad Gabel of BITCO-Kitchell, a joint partnership, mentioned the 85 to 90 percent Navajo worker participation rate on the construction and the 90 to 95 percent Navajo employee rate in the casino.

"The Navajo Nation is making a tremendous commitment ... by opening up casinos in various parts of the reservation," Gabel said. "These and other projects provide much-needed jobs to the community, not only during construction but throughout the life of the enterprise."

A third Navajo casino is slated to begin construction next month in Upper Fruitland, N.M., and slated to open in about 12 months, Winter stated.

He added that a fourth Navajo casino located near Twin Arrows in Arizona will also go to contract this fall with construction slated for completion in about 18 months.

Navajo subcontractors on the project included Brown Fire Systems, Cabinet Southwest, Chee/Northstar Construction, LLC, F. Brady Construction Company, Inc., Red Valley Survey and Shiprock Concrete.

BITCO-Kitchell is a joint partnership between BITCO and Kitchell Contractors. BITCO is a leading Navajo family-owned construction management firm. Kitchell, a 60-plus year-old Phoenix-based employee-owned construction company, is known for delivering quality construction to Indian Country.

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