5/7/2009--Snoqualmie, WA, USA.NOTE: FACES HAVE BEEN DIGITALLY BLURRED TO PROTECT IDENTITY.The new Snoqualmie Casino. Tribal casinos around Washington State generated some $1.34 billion in combined revenue in 2007, up eight-fold in just a decade. Tribes were using this influx of cash to build state-of-the-art health care facilities, fund college tuitions and even put money directly in the pockets of their members. ..After suffering through decades of dispossession and abject poverty, the Snoqualmies weren't interested in struggling to just make ends meet any longer (in 2001, a demographic survey revealed unemployment at 42 percent; it dropped to 31 percent in 2006). To tribal administrator Matt Mattson, casino gambling was the only option that offered "the opportunity to restore the tribe to its rightful position of prominence in the land that's named after it."..The Snoqualmies--who once dominated Western Washington, controlling the all-important trade route through the Cascades to the sea-- wasn't even recognized by the federal government and had no reservation or land of its own. Their quest for government recognition took decades--years in which they pieced together enough evidence of cohesion to convince the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to recognize them as a "domestic sovereign nation" under federal law--a designation they had lost in 1952 (see sidebar). When they were finally granted this status in 1999, the tribe embarked on a quest to makes its dreams--a reservation that tribal members could call home, world-class health care for Snoqualmies and other Northwest natives, and access to as much education as any individual tribal members would want to pursue--come true...©2009 Stuart Isett. All rights reserved.