Tim MacDonald Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
The Northern Winz Casino near Box Elder on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation is scheduled to open before the end of the month. It will be serving alcoholic beverages after a decision by the Chippewa Cree Tribe’s Business Council. Council member and state representative Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Rocky Boy, brought up the matter of serving alcohol at the the casino to a vote before the committee. Windy Boy asked that the committee write a referendum to be put to a vote of the people of the tribe before a decision was made. The committee voted four-to-four and the tie breaking vote was cast by chairman John Chance Houle deciding that the matter not be put before the voters. “This is a matter of major concern to our people. It is a simple fact: Indians and alcohol do not mix,” Windy Boy said. “If we had a need for alcohol we would have been making it a long time ago.” Windy Boy said that the matter of alcohol at the casino had been up for a vote before the committee before construction began on the facility. At that time the matter was defeated by a vote of six to two, in favor of serving alcohol. “Things have changed quite a bit. Now casinos can serve a good steak, and cater to families, and not serve alcohol or allow smoking,” Windy Boy said. “I thought it was time to revisit the question. I’m sorry the way things turned out.” “Just ask our elders, this is not a good thing for our community in the long run the way it’s set up,” he said Windy Boy said that Las Vegas casinos are now much more family oriented, and more profitable. “Around the turn of the century, when our ancestors worked to get this reservation it was as a place to preserve, practice and protect our traditions and culture,” Windy Boy said. “The way things are going with the new casino, I think it defeats that purpose.” “We are (with the casino) creating jobs, and income for our people. I’m just saying that we could do that without bringing more alcohol into our community,” Windy Boy said. “We just have to admit that we are susceptible to alcohol” he said. “But I guess we lost, that’s all we can do right now. Councilmen Russell Gopher, Harlan Baker and Ken Writing Bird joined Windy Boy in the vote to initiate the referendum. Kelly Eagleman, Ricky Morsette, Raymond “Jake” Parker and Donovan Stump voted against the matter. Windy Boy is a recovering alcoholic with 25 years of sobriety. He lost a twin brother to an alcohol-related car accident.