Today, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde has built a flourishing community to provide for their membership and surrounding communities.
In 1954, The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde were terminated by the Federal Government. This meant they would no longer be recognized as a Native American tribe, and they would no longer receive federal funding for programs to help their people.
Many tribal members left the area to find a better life, and many members struggled to find their identity. After nearly 20 years of termination, a small group of Grand Ronde tribal members began what would become one of the greatest achievements of the Grand Ronde people. The group began a fight that became a decade-long struggle. They fought to restore recognition of their people. They fought to restore pride and honor. And they fought to restore their identity.
What started as a small group, soon became a community effort. And after years of hard work and determination by many, the group’s push to restore federal recognition for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde was finally realized when President Ronald Reagan signed the Grand Ronde Restoration Bill into law on November 22, 1983.
Tribal gaming in the United States began Oct. 17, 1988, with passage of the National Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Tribal gaming in Grand Ronde started when Tribal Council member Merle Holmes and a handful of Tribal Council members visited the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in Alabama.
Oregon Gov. Barbara Roberts, who was governor from 1991-95, signed a gaming compact with Grand Ronde in 1993 and the Tribal membership voted to pursue gaming in 1994. Roberts was Oregon’s 34th governor and the first woman to be elected to the office. “She came out to the powwow to sign the compact. It was quite an experience," says Tribal Elder and former Tribal Council member Ed Larsen.
Tribal leadership secured an $18.9 million loan from John Hancock Insurance Co. and broke ground on the casino project in October 1994. Six months later, the casino’s new logo – a coyote jumping over Spirit Mountain - was unveiled.
In 1997, the Tribe began fulfilling its tradition of potlatch, a ceremony at which good fortune is distributed, by sharing 6 percent of the casino’s profits through Spirit Mountain Community Fund. The fund’s focus is to improve the quality of life in northwest Oregon through community investments that provide lasting benefits consistent with the Tribe’s culture and values.
To date, Spirit Mountain Community Fund has distributed more than $84 million to nonprofit, charitable organizations in 11 counties in Oregon, as well as awarded grants to the nine federally recognized Tribes in the state.
Table games such as Craps and Roulette are introduced to the gaming floor.
The next big development at Spirit Mountain Casino was the opening of the new 100-room lodge on Dec. 21, 1998. Just five months after Spirit Mountain Lodge opened, the Oregon Tourism Commission declared the casino to be the state’s top tourist destination, besting perennial top attraction Multnomah Falls.
The largest expansion in gaming capacity taking us from just over 800 slot machines to 1500. Major changes as hundreds of new slots are brought in and the Coyote Club, Main Cage, and Poker all move to new locations.
In 2001, Spirit Mountain Casino expanded again when construction work began and 5,200 square feet of gaming floor was added. The new space made room for an additional 200 slot machines.
In April 2004, construction work began on a new expansion to the lodge. With the lodge running at a 95-percent occupancy rate, the new rooms were needed. The five-story lodge addition added 163 rooms and opened in April 2005.
On Sept. 1, 2006, the casino opened The Peak area, offering additional gaming space.
On Feb. 5, 2007, a groundbreaking ceremony was held to mark the beginning of construction work on the southern expansion project at Spirit Mountain. The expansion was completed and opened on May 15, 2008. The fourth major expansion added 132,000 square feet of space to the casino and is the new home of the Cedar Plank Buffet and the new Events Center that seats as many as 2,000 people.
On May 23, 2009, the casino opened the Mountain View Sports Bar, which features a 100-inch projection screen television and 15 plasma screens for guests to watch sporting events while enjoying food and beverages.
The comprehensive 82,000 square foot design-build remodel transformed the Spirit Mountain location. Revenues did not go down, but actually went up during the remodel. The transformation provided a dramatic gaming experience as well as delivered a property wide upgrade to the image of the casino.
After becoming legal in many states sports betting is offered at Spirit Mountain. The states largest sportsbook opens August 28, 2020 and began taking action on professional and collegiate sporting events.