Photograph of the “Tending the Fire” statue in front of the Potawatomi Bingo in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, approximately 1999-2001. Katherine A. Spilde Papers on Native American Gaming. MS-00092. Special Collections, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.
In the 1990s and early 2000s Native American nations across the United States readily embraced gaming as a new opportunity for economic growth. The Katherine A. Spilde Papers on Native American Gaming include materials collected by anthropologist Katherine Spilde about Native American gaming and the greater gaming industry. Primarily dating from 1995 to 2010, the collection traces how Native American gaming was established, managed, and regulated following the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) in 1988. The papers detail Native American gaming enterprises both on and off reservations, the socioeconomic impact of gaming, and the legislative history of Native American gaming in the United States. The papers also include research and subject files created by Dr. Spilde during her employment with the National Gambling Impact Study Commission (NGISC), the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA), and the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development (HPAIED). The Katherine A. Spilde Papers on Native American Gaming is a rich archive of documents, photographs, reports, and other materials that document the perspectives of Native American peoples across the United States as well as the federal and state regulators of Native American gaming.
Katherine A. Spilde, PhD, is a cultural anthropologist and Native American gaming researcher, lecturer, and professor who studies the social, economic, and political impacts of casino gaming on indigenous communities in the United States. After completing her PhD at the University of California, Santa Cruz Spilde worked for the National Gambling Impact Study Commission (NGISC), which sought to identify the social and economic impacts of gambling in the United States, including those stemming from Native American gaming enterprises. She also worked as the Director of Research for the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA), and compiled national research initiatives, created economic development and Native American gaming policy platforms, and established the open-source National Indian Gaming Library and Resource Center. Spilde also served as a Senior Research Associate for the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, which focused on identifying social and economic impacts of gaming on Native American communities. She has also served as a board member for the National Council on Problem Gaming and the National Center for Responsible Gaming; the Executive Director for the Center for California Native Nations at the University of California, Riverside; and associate professor and Endowed Chair of the Sycuan Institute on Tribal Gaming at San Diego State University.
The project to process and make the Spilde Papers more accessible for researchers is part of a larger initiative funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) titled “America’s Great Gamble: A Project to Promote the Discovery of Sources About the Expansion of Legalized Gambling Across the United States.” Researchers interested in the Katherine A. Spilde Papers on Native American Gaming will find details on the content in the collection guide.
The photograph slideshow below shows the expansion of Native American gaming enterprises in the 1990s and 2000s. The slideshow is comprised of photographs taken by Dr. Spilde on various site visits to Native American gaming facilities in the 1990s and early 2000s, as well as recent images (from a variety of sources) to show the changes over time.