According to Carlos Hisa, Lt. Governor of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo/Tigua Indian Reservation of Texas, for a number of years the State of Texas was responsible for overseeing what had been going on in the reservation. The state decided to give back the responsibility to the federal government, which in returned, recognized them as a tribe. The state created the Restoration Act that in order for the state to support the Tigua Indian Reservation in being recognized federally, there had to be a couple of conditions.
One of the conditions was that they would never have gaming. "At that point, gaming was not in existence...the State of Texas wasn't gaming," stated the Lt. Governor. And during that time, large families were living in a two bedroom adobe house in poor housing conditions, roofs were leaking, no running water and no electricity. The Tigua Indians were in urgent need of financial assistance. The tribe's council, elected officials at that time had to do something to help their people.
They really had no choice, but to sign the agreement, Slotoff.com (http://slotoff.com/
) not truly understanding what gaming was about since it wasn't even in existence. Hisa explains it, "Is like saying right now, sign here, you'll never be able to drive a flying car. I'll give you a thousand bucks if you sign. Behold, ten years later, someone comes up with a flying car, you want one... I'm sorry, you signed here." He also stated that Speaking Rock Casino had been in operation for more than 9 years.
At that time, a republican was running for governor, who neither El Paso nor the Tigua Indian Tribe supported
him. El Paso is democrat strong, and so was the tribe. Soon enough, certain politicians started questioning what was going on, and wanted the casino to closed down. And that's how everything began. It was politically motivated. They used the language in the agreement to closed it down, but yet, they let the Tiguas operate Speaking Rock Casino for a number of years without any problems.
Hisa explains, "If you look closely at the Restoration Act, there's two things on there, one says, the tribe can do what the State of Texas can do, and there's another one there that says, except gaming. So when the State of Texas opened up lottery, which is gaming, it's gambling, we said, 'if they can do it, that means, we can do it to.' If the state wasn't gambling back then, but they do it now, why can we do it along with the state?" The reservation's council, elective officials at that time, thought the Restoration Act wasn't cleared, so thought they had a case, and challenged it in court.
In the Texas Legislature, some of the representatives claimed it was illegal, and called them uneducated people, drug dealers and criminals. Consequently, the judge made the final decision to close it down. The Tigua Indian Reservation stays away from politics now. They've learned their lesson. The Tigua Indian Tribe officials have been fighting back since Speaking Rock Casino was closed, but haven't been successful in the Texas Legislature.
Recently, the tribe put the bill into for a vote in Austin to re-open the casino. The result was a 66/66 tie, it did not passed. The Lt. Governor was very disappointed by the comments that were made from certain individuals. However, he believes everything in this earth happens for a reason. "But it's not over, we'll continue to fight for the casino," affirmed Hisa. In the past, the Tiguas had opened a bill for Bingo and it passed, but it went back to the house and it didn't passed.
"The court order is so strict now that they don't even let us operate Bingo. But we'll continue to struggle and move forward. We're not going to sit here and cry about it," said the governor. The tribe employed over 800 individuals to work in the casino. The money that had been generated from Speaking Rock Casino, according to the governor, was used for housing, education, wellness center, healthcare and substance abuse programs, social services, a pharmacy, a library and a courthouse.
"There was nothing but positive for us and the City of El Paso," stated the governor. But then, he said there were people from the other side of Texas saying that having a casino was nothing but wrong. They were saying that there were drug dealers, and that the crime rate had gone higher. "There was a lot of crime here in the Lower Valley before the casino.