Yavapai Nation Has Good/Bad Press Week
In 1992 only five of the state’s 21 Indian reservations had casinos. When the FBI showed up to seize gaming machines after state officials deemed them illegal, Fort McDowell was the only tribe to defy the orders.
The tribe used vehicles and their bodies to block the FBI agents. The incident, which was broadcast nationwide, spurred Arizona officials to allow tribes to run slot machines and cleared the way for a legalized casino industry that generates millions annually for Arizona tribes.
Only a few decades ago, some tribal members lived in grass huts with no electricity or running water. The tribe has since used gaming proceeds to build a health center, gas station, recreation center and 140 homes.
Tribal President Raphael Bear said, “Sovereignty Day paved the way for the future. In August we are building 25 more houses, We are installing new sewer and water liens so that every tribal member has the utilities they need.”
The bad side emerges when the tribe recently broke ground for an RV park with 150 spaces and in doing so evicted the "Out of Africa Wildlife Park" which has been on the reservation for the past 16 years. The Out of Africa people have until June 30th to move some 300 animals including tigers, lions and giraffes. The Tribe served the eviction after negotiations for an extended lease fell through.
The eviction notice created some bad press for the tribe in a story also bylined Laura Dobbins. In addition to two stories in The Republic, one letter writer stated ‘Tribal Eviction of Animal Park Outlandish’.”I think the eviction of Out of Africa by the Yavapai Tribal Council in order to build a 150 space RV park is irresponsible and outlandish.
“Out of Africa is the most unique animal experience I’ve ever enjoyed. That fact that they would be evicted to build an RV park simply speaks for itself”. Chris Mc______, Scottsdale,
The Animal Park’s Internet promotional states’ “Out of Africa is not a zoo or a circus but a unique way to enjoy a variety of wildlife from large cats to bear, wolves, javelina, snakes. The Park offers different shows throughout the day. These are not really ‘shows’ since the animals are not trained or rehearsed. The animals are in charge of the shows so no two shows are ever alike. Each time you visit, Out of Africa, you’ll see something different.”
As a result of the publicity generated by the eviction notice, volunteers have come forth to assist with relocation and the care and feeding of the animals while new habitats are constructed on a 125 acre site in Camp Verde, as money becomes available according to a spokesperson for Out of Africa, but the operation will be closed for a year.
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