It’s no secret that anti-Indian gaming sentiment and prejudice still exist. 

For a number of reasons, tribal gaming organizations are seldom recognized for their history of uncommon generosity and support they provide to non-native and native organizations and communities.

And in today’s political climate, being reminded of acts of inclusiveness and altruism can’t be a bad thing, right?

In an effort to share the untold stories of positive relationships between tribal entities and the regions in which they operate, Raving Consulting created a recognition program in 2015 to raise awareness and recognize programs that highlight the hundreds of acts of giving of tribal communities.

Last month, 15 organizations were honored at the “Tribal Spirit of Giving Awards: Recognizing Organizations That Give Back to Their Communities, Employees and Customers” during Raving’s 19th Indian Gaming National Marketing Conference, at Choctaw Casino Resort, Durant, Okla. The event reached historic attendance of over 300 gaming executives and suppliers.

Three breast cancer awareness and prevention campaigns were submitted by three different organizations and, in total, raised over $500,000 for breast cancer organizations. As impressive as these numbers were, these awards are not judged by money raised; they are judged by the overall impact and participation level—thousands of employee and community hours were donated. 

Christine Todd, relations/ HDS program manager for Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort, submitted their first place entry. During their Breast Cancer Awareness month, their numerous activities included a Bra Pong event, a Pink Hair Challenge and Ak-Chin’s infamous Battle of the Bras. “Out of all of these efforts, it comes down to one thing, saving women from this disease,” Todd said. “One of our employees took advantage of our free mammogram screenings for employees and that free mammogram saved her life.” 

The variety of entries focused on many areas of need. FireKeepers Casino Hotel in Michigan was recognized for its nonprofit/hands-on project named the “Fire Hub” that will blend a restaurant with large gardens to grow food for local schools and a food pantry to help those less fortunate. Kalispel Tribe of Indians—Northern Quest Resort & Casino in Washington submitted an impressive entry that was about funding a top-care facility dedicated to treating and prolonging the lives of those diagnosed with heart disease.

Another firest place entry was submitted by the Casino Del Sol Resort in the Employee Category. Each day for four days, from Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday, Casino Del Sol closes all casino and tribal operations so that all employees that participate in the Pascua Yaqui Lenten and Easter ceremonies get the time needed to complete their culturally significant tasks for their community.

Organizations from across the country participated in this contest, including 7 Cedars Casino & Resort Properties; Blue Lake Casino & Hotel; Casino Del Sol; Cherokee Nation Businesses; Choctaw Casinos; Elwha River Casino; FireKeepers Casino Hotel; Fortune Bay Resort Casino; Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino; Indigo Sky Casino; Kalispel Tribe of Indians—Northern Quest Resort & Casino; Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel; Mazatzal Hotel & Casino; Prairie Band Casino & Resort; and Pueblo of Pojoaque.

At the Awards Luncheon during Raving’s 19th Indian Gaming National Marketing Conference, the winners were presented with a piece of hand-crafted, traditional Choctaw pottery created by tribal member Edmun Perkins. Also on stage was NB3F President and CEO Justin Kii Huenemann, who said, “Indian gaming was created to help our people, our tribes.  The Tribal Spirit of Giving Awards reflects this commitment and the role gaming properties have to give back and support their tribes, employees and communities. It is important that we never lose sight of this value and responsibility. It was great to see this in action through the honorees at the annual Tribal Spirit of Giving Awards.”

Dennis Conrad, president of Raving Consulting, said at the event, “Every single entry is a winner, because every single entry represents a group or a person in need getting critical assistance. What we see submitted is just one tiny drop in the bucket of good works that tribal organizations do for their constituencies.”

The Tribal Spirit of Giving Awards is one of many fundraisers that the organizer, Raving Consulting Company, does throughout the year for the Notah Begay III Foundation (NB3F), which does critical work in addressing obesity and type 2 diabetes among Native American youth.

For more information about entering the 2018 Tribal Spirit of Giving Awards or Raving’s Indian Gaming National Marketing Conference, please contact Christine Faria, vice president of marketing at by e-mail at

Top honors were awarded to:

» Community Category

  • 2nd Place - THE FIRE HUB, FireKeepers Casino Hotel
  • 3rd Place - BREAST CANCER AWARENESS CANPAIGN, Choctaw Casinos

» Employee Category

  • 1st Place - CASINO DEL SOL CULTURAL PROGRAM, Casino Del Sol Resort
  • 2nd Place - WINNING WITH WEEA, FireKeepers Casino Hotel