COWLITZ INDIAN RESERVATION — Interested in working at the new mega-casino being built on the Cowlitz Indian Reservation near La Center? The ilani resort is hosting a career fair from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sat., Jan. 14, at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds.
The $510 million tribal casino, operated by Salishan-Mohegan, LLC in partnership with the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and expected to open in mid-April 2017, will boast 2,500 slot machines, 80 gaming tables, 100,000-square-feet of gaming space, two entertainment venues and 15 different bars, restaurants and retail shops.
The Las Vegas-style casino has already provided 250 labor-union wage jobs to local construction workers and is expected to hire roughly 1,000 workers to fill various gaming, restaurant, retail and management positions.
The Jan. 14 career fair will showcase open positions in marketing management, table game and slot machine operations, food and beverage service, accounting and finance, security and surveillance, resource planning, materials management, engineering, human resources and information technology.
Interested applicants should bring copies of their resumes and cover letters to the event and dress in interview-appropriate attire. Representatives from the ilani casino-resort will conduct onsite interviews at the Jan. 14 career fair.
Kara Fox-LaRose, general manager of the ilani casino-resort project, said the Cowlitz tribe will give preference to Cowlitz tribal members seeking work at the new casino, but that there will be many competitive-wage positions open to non-tribal members, as well.
During a tour of the casino site in October, Cowlitz Tribal Chairman Bill Iyall said the ilani casino-resort — named for the Cowlitz word for “sing” — will highlight the tribe’s history through design features, sculptural elements and artwork. Iyall also said the tribal casino will help improve life for members of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and will give back to the local community through large-scale investments in economic growth and environmental sustainability projects.
A 2010 report drafted for the Washington Indian Gaming Association shows that tribal casinos in Washington State tend to hire mostly non-tribal members to fill casino positions. According to this financial report, in 2010, Washington’s Native American tribes paid $1.3 billion in payroll to 27,000 Washingtonians, “the vast majority of whom were non-Indian.” Of the 15,387 gaming employees working for Washington’s 29 federally recognized Indian tribes in 2010, more than 80 percent — 12,474 — were not members of a Native American Indian tribe.
Because the ilani casino is located on the Cowlitz Indian Reservation and run by a federally recognized Indian tribe, it is not subject to certain federal laws that forbid preference in hiring. For instance, Indian tribes and their tribal enterprises are excluded from the definition of “employer” in the federal Title VII law, which prohibits discrimination in employment due to race, color, sex, national origin and religion.
The exemptions make it possible for the Cowlitz tribe to present employment opportunities for the tribe’s members, many of whom are young and underemployed. Unlike many of Washington’s Indian tribes, the Cowlitz have, until 2014, been considered “landless,” for more than 160 years, the tribe’s members scattered to the winds seeking a place to call their own.
In 2015, not long after a federal judge cleared the way for the Cowlitz to claim 152 acres in Clark County, just west of La Center off Interstate 5, as Cowlitz reservation land, Chairman Iyall said he hoped the Cowlitz tribal casino would help draw young Cowlitz families back to the region.
“We need to have these types of economic opportunities for our future generations,” Iyall said in 2015. “We want the youth to stay, to become leaders in the tribe and to have a way to earn a living.”
Of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s 3,900 members, more than half are age 18 or younger.
“We are a very young tribe,” Iyall said. “We are growing, we need room to expand, to provide more services.”
To find out more about the various types of job openings at the new casino, visit the ilani resort website, click on “careers” and then on “career opportunities.”
The ilani resort career fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sat., Jan. 14, at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds, 17402 NE Delfel Road, Ridgefield.