Two tribes show up for Pawlenty meeting

Associated Press

ST. PAUL -- After meeting with two tribal leaders, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he intends to continue his push to get $350 million in casino profits for the state.

He called Wednesday's meeting "encouraging" -- even though only two of the 11 invited tribal leaders attended.

George Goggleye, chairman of the Leech Lake Band of Chippewa, and Erma Vizenor, chairwoman of the White Earth Tribal Council, said after the hourlong meeting that they didn't have money to share but that they were encouraged by Pawlenty's desire for cooperation.

"The governor was open to listening to what our concerns are. I think we're going to make some progress," Goggleye said.


Last week, in a letter to the 11 tribal leaders, Pawlenty proposed that they pay $350 million annually to Minnesota. In return, they would receive the promise that no private interests could open casinos in the state for some length of time.

On Wednesday, Pawlenty said he will continue to try to work with other tribes for a while, but if no agreement is reached, the state will either work with the two tribes who attended the meeting or consider other options.

"The industry will grow -- it's just a question of how and what the state's role is," Pawlenty said.

Pawlenty said he believes a commercial casino could be developed in the state through the Minnesota Lottery without a constitutional amendment. That, he said, would require only legislative approval.

House Minority Leader Matt Entenza said Pawlenty "needs to take Vegas casinos off the table. All they will bring is vice, mob activity and money laundering."

In a statement released after the meeting, the Prairie Island Dakota Tribe expressed disappointment at what it called the governor's "refusal" to reschedule the meeting.

"Our community will not negotiate under direct threat," the statement said.

The Leech Lake, White Earth and Red Lake bands, which, because of their locations in northern Minnesota, have not enjoyed great success with tribal gaming, are pushing for an urban casino that would share its profits with the state.

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