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Tribal activities make $10.8B impact on Oklahoma's economic output, study suggests

An Oklahoma City University report suggests that the state's 38 federally recognized Indian tribes produce an estimated $10.8 billion impact on the state's production of goods and services, with more than 70 percent of that total coming from the tribes' gambling operations.
by Don Mecoy Modified: October 16, 2012 at 10:15 pm •  Published: October 16, 2012

Of the 53,747 people employed by tribes, 37,531 work in tribal businesses such as casinos, retailers and professional service operations, the report said. About 85 percent of the people working for tribal businesses — an estimated 32,469 — were employed in gaming, the report said.

Tribal payroll payments total $1.5 billion, or $27,610 per employee, the report said.

The tribes made direct payments of $792 million to state entities for medical care access, education, social services and economic development opportunities for tribal citizens, the report said.

The report, titled “The Statewide Impacts of Oklahoma Tribes,” was funded by The Cherokee Nation, The Chickasaw Nation, The Choctaw Nation and the Commerce Department. The institute estimated the figures after reviewing financial information provided by seven tribes, which included the reports' sponsors as well as The Citizen Potawatomi Nation, The Muscogee (Creek) Nation, The Peoria Tribe and the Shawnee Tribe.

Because of the limited sample size, determining the actual impact of tribal activities is “difficult,” the report said. “Based on our methodology, their true impacts are as likely to be understated as they are overstated,” the report concluded.

Research Economist Kyle Dean said the OCU study is the first effort by economists to gauge the direct and indirect impact of tribal operations in Oklahoma. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said the study, which he labeled “groundbreaking,” quantifies the significant economic contributions of tribes.

by Don Mecoy
Business Editor
Business Editor Don Mecoy has covered business news for more than a decade after earlier working on The Oklahoman's city, state and metro news desks, including a stint as city editor. He has won state and regional journalism awards for business,...
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