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Beyond the Casino: Sustainable ­Tourism and Cultural Development on Native American Lands

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An increasing number of American-Indian tribes have turned to high-profile casino developments to stimulate desperate local economies. This case study of the Yavapai-Apache Nation's experience with Indian gaming in central Arizona highlights the necessity for tribes to view the casino as one component of a more comprehensive, long-term development strategy. While casino projects themselves gain the immediate attention of many researchers, few studies have focused on the process of long-term tribal planning and development initiatives made possible by relatively short-term casino revenues. This qualitative analysis investigates beyond the tribe's successful Cliff Castle Casino to understand the decision-making process embedded within its internal government structure. Central to this process was a long-term vision of tribal leaders that focused less on immediate use of casino revenues and more on tribal empowerment, cultural awareness and sustainable economic development. Various tourism initiatives have figured prominently in this long-term scenario, given the tribe's location in ­Arizona's amenity-rich Verde Valley.

Keywords: Arizona; Indian gaming; Yavapai-Apache Nation; sustainable tourism development

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14616680320001722346

Affiliations: 1: Sedona Center for Arts & Technology, Yavapai College, Arizona, USA 2: Department of Geography and Public Planning, Northern Arizona University, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2003

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