Pamunkey Indians Trying to Bring Tribe into the 21st Century Through Gambling Venture

pamunkey indians tribe

The Pamunkey Indian Tribe have a long and illustrious heritage which dates back to over 10,000 years. Far pre-dating the European colonists who arrived in Eastern Virginia at the start of the 17th century, the tribe have held onto their tribal lands in a reservation which they have owned since before the United States were formed. Now, after three decades of pushing for official Federal recognition, there are huge plans on the horizon for the Pamunkey to secure a bright future that will take them into the 21st century.

An Improved Internet Connection As A Priority

Having received Federal recognition in 2015, new and exciting funding opportunities as well as increasing government agency contact came to Pamunkey’s way, but that didn’t mean that there were no difficulties. One major problem which arose was that whenever large files were emailed by federal officials to the leaders of the tribe on their reservation, internet data caps started to become a serious obstacle. Pamunkey Net has proven to be the solution to the problem, and this development has enabled the tribe to branch out into more ambitious projects, not the least of which being a casino resort worth $700 million.

Benefiting Tribe And Commonwealth Together

The Pamunkey are keen on using the status of their tribe to not only benefit themselves but also to bring wider benefits to the state of Virginia as a whole. Their exciting casino resort project will be the first casino in Virginia and looks set to trigger hot debates over gambling in this state which has historically been unfriendly to casino.

600 acres has already been secured by the tribe in New Kent County, however this is not their only option, with the possibility of an urban casino located in Richmond also being discussed. Although there are already Indian casinos across 29 states, they have a minimal foothold across the mid-Atlantic states. Nevertheless, nationwide, over 500 gambling establishments are being run by almost 250 tribes and the industry is worth a massive $31.2 billion.

Now, the tribe must find some suitable real estate in its ancestral territories and convince the Interior Department that they should take that land into trust on behalf of the tribe.

Persuading Pamunkey Members To Return

There are just under 400 members of the Pamunkey tribe, however they are scattered around the country at present. Yet, if this new economic casino project proceeds as planned, the tribe’s leaders hope that descendants of those Pamunkey members that left Virginia will return to reconnect with their old, familiar territories, bringing benefits to their community.

Finding Investments Outside The Tribe

Although the tribe has very little money to use on this venture, Jon Yarbrough, a billionaire from Tennessee could be the solution to the problem. Having already made a fortune in tribal casinos, he is now planning to fund the Pamunkey casino and to bring in capital which could help the tribe’s projects along more rapidly. Unfortunately, not all members of the tribe are delighted about an outsider being brought in to lead this project, especially as the tribe has so little gambling world experience.

Finding The Right Location

Although there are a few different sites which are being touted at present for the casino project, the reservation itself would certainly be a poor choice. Only able to be reached on a narrow road, it is home to under 100 people who live in modest properties surrounded by farms. With fishing cabins at one side and Powhatan’s burial place at the other, the place has a strong country feel, and the tribe are keen to preserve that ambiance. Despite the fact that no site has yet been chosen, the possible impact on the tribe’s country lifestyle has already caused a stir, and care will need to be taken to ensure that everyone is satisfied with the eventual outcome when a location is finally picked.

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