The Washington Indian Gaming Association (WIGA) has released a study showing tribes’ economic activity and its effect on local commerce. According to WIGA, Washington State tribes contributed close to $6.6bn in gross state product during 2019 and $5.6bn in 2020. Washington tribes rank as the seventh-largest employer in the state.

The report says: “Growing tribal economies fund schools, housing programs, health clinics, environmental rehabilitation, infrastructure development, firefighting, law enforcement, and other public services for Indians and non-Indians alike.”

Washington State’s 29 tribal governments produce $1.5bn in benefits and wages and generate $1.2bn in state and local taxes. The tribes employ more than 37,000 people and 54,000 jobs were generated indirectly. Of the total positions hired, 72% have been filled by non-tribal members. The economic impact and number of people the tribes employ have nearly tripled compared to 2004.

WIGA executive director and enrolled member of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, Rebecca George, said: “Tribes are running gaming and other businesses not to generate private profits, but to fund critically needed government services for some of the poorest and most historically marginalized communities in Washington State.

“Our commitment to responsible gaming activities along with a diverse array of economic development efforts led by tribes is both restoring tribal self-reliance and boosting our overall state economy.”