Navajo Nation breaks ground for Twin Arrows Casino

<i>Todd Roth/NHO</i><br>
Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly gestures as he addressed visitors at the ground breaking ceremony for the new Twin Arrows Casino and Resort near Leupp last Monday. The $150 million project will start the first phase of construction in April and doors are expected to open on July 1, 2012.

<i>Todd Roth/NHO</i><br> Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly gestures as he addressed visitors at the ground breaking ceremony for the new Twin Arrows Casino and Resort near Leupp last Monday. The $150 million project will start the first phase of construction in April and doors are expected to open on July 1, 2012.

LEUPP, Ariz. - Despite wind, dust and a few snowflakes, the formal dedication for the new Twin Arrows Casino and Resort was held on March 21 at the Twin Arrows site along Interstate 40. Groups of people huddled together in the wind and dust, posing with their gold shovels, symbolizing the start of the building process for the Navajo Nation's latest gaming venture.

Dressed in work boots, Levis, Levis shirt, dirty Carhartt work coat - assuming I'd get real dirty - I could see right away that my attire would be a little off. Sure enough, upon entering, most everyone was dressed in nice clothes, but were still nice and cooperative to this "Homeless Biligaana," fresh from hiking along the interstate.

There was plenty of coffee, soda and sweet rolls to keep us going before the dedication speeches were held. Then there was food for the lunch after the speeches, which was catered by Fire Rock Casino. Fire Rock is also the headquarters for the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise (NNGE) as well as the training center from which the new casinos get their employees.

Rhonda Ray, Fire Rock Marketing Manager, organized the event and began the dedication by introducing Alfred Tsosie from Leupp to do the invocation.

Next up was Sean McCabe, Chairman of the NNGE Board of Directors, who gave the welcoming address. President Ben Shelly then gave a public address and was followed by Larry Echo Hawk, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs from the U.S. Department of Interior.

Remarks were also made by Thomas Cody, Leupp Chapter President; Council Delegate Walter Phelps; Omar Bradley, Regional Director BIA; and Ernie Stephens, Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association.

The speakers all recognized and acknowledged that it took major effort and cooperation to enable the Twin Arrows Casino project to start, germinate and progress to the beginning of the current construction phase.

The speakers all agreed that the Twin Arrows Casino, when completed, will provide at least 300 permanent jobs for the Leupp area and significant economic benefits to Flagstaff as well. The cooperation of all concerned parties was largely responsible for the success of the project.

As indicated by a video shown throughout the event, Twin Arrows Casino and Resort intends to be another first class venue produced by the Navajo Tribe.

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