The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) is a modern Tribal Government representing the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla people, who have lived in this region for thousands of years. Traditional games of skill and games of chance have always been part of their tribal culture.
In 1988 the United States Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), which provided a basis for Indian Tribes in the US to enter into modern forms of gaming for the purpose of supplementing revenue for tribal nations. IGRA requires tribes to negotiate with states on the types of games to be played and how it will be regulated, while ensuring that tribal governments are the sole owners and primary beneficiaries of gaming, and legislatively recognizing tribal gaming as a way of promoting economic development for tribes. In March, 1995 the CTUIR opened the Wildhorse Resort & Casino for this purpose (a temporary casino facility was opened by CTUIR in November, 1994).
Under the IGRA, tribes use their gaming revenue:
- To fund tribal government operations or programs – examples include Tribal Court, child welfare, building inspection, natural resources protection, police, fire and ambulance.
- To provide for the general welfare of the Tribe and its members – activities dealing with the long-term security and enhancement of assets of the Tribe and its members, such as investments, scholarships, burial expense assistance, elders group, land acquisition, housing improvements, native language program, summer youth employment, emergency housing assistance, and many others.
- To promote tribal economic development – development of new and expanded economic development projects such as resort management, Tamastslikt Cultural Institute, Business Service Center, Coyote Business Park and Indian Lake.
- To share earnings in the form of dividends (paid to each Tribal Member) – the dividends are based on actual earnings, but the amounts have varied from around $500 per year in the first few years the casino opened to around $1,700 in recent years.
- To donate to charitable organizations — The CTUIR is committed to honoring our tribal traditions of sharing and giving back to the communities in which we live and work. The formation of Wildhorse Foundation in 2001 was for the purpose of formalizing the charitable giving on behalf of the CTUIR and its Wildhorse Casino.
The CTUIR homeland is the area now known as northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington. Each year the Wildhorse Foundation makes grants to eligible organizations in that homeland area; Morrow, Umatilla, Union and Wallowa counties in Oregon and Benton, Columbia and Walla Walla Counties in Washington, along with Native American organization in the Pacific Northwest region.
The Foundation receives 3% of net gaming revenues from Wildhorse Resort & Casino to award grants. These funds are distributed quarterly in equal amounts. Through 2017, the Wildhorse Foundation has awarded more than $11 million dollars in grants to community organizations in our seven county area.
The Wildhorse Foundation donates almost $1 million every year to local programs and services that benefit our giving area. We fund projects in the areas of the Arts, Cultural Activities, Education, Environmental Protection, Gambling Addiction Prevention, Education and Treatment, Historic Preservation, Public Health, Public Safety and Salmon Restoration. Close to 1500 organizations have received project funding from the Wildhorse Foundation.