Find us on Facebook



Canyon Road Arts:

The Complete Visitors Guide to Arts, Dining and Santa Fe Lifestyle

Volume 4, 2008-2009

Pages 64-67



by Michael Ettema, Santa Fe Director of Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery

Shonto Begay    Second Night Glow     Acrylic on Canvas     52 x 80

Shonto Begay, Second Night Glow, Acrylic on Canvas 52 x 80

New Mexico’s tribally-owned casinos have become such familiar landmarks on the tourism landscape, it’s hard to believe they’ve been here only a dozen years. 

In 1987, the Federal Government confirmed the right of Tribal governments to operate casinos on their own lands. The State of New Mexico did not allow Indian gaming until 1995, but thirteen Pueblos and Tribes more than made up for lost time by building a total of nineteen casinos, with at least one more one the way.

Glen Crandall     Turned Jar of Walnut and Holly     5.25 x 7.5

Glen Crandall, Turned Jar of Walnut and Holly 5.25 x 7.5

New Mexico’s casinos cater to a diverse audience of both residents and tourists. They range from intimate slot machine venues such as Pojoaque Pueblo’s Cities of Gold Sports Bar to the magnificent, luxury resort hotels at Sandia, Santa Ana, and Isleta Pueblos.

Winning the right to operate casinos has become a source of pride for our State’s Native nations. As one of the first instances where the Pueblos and Tribes were able to negotiate with the State as equals, casino enterprises are seen as an essential component of Native sovereignty and self-determination. Unlike Tribal casinos in many other states, New Mexico’s casinos are managed by the tribes themselves, keeping casino operations aligned with Tribal culture and social values.

Of course, Tribal gaming also has very tangible benefits. America’s Indian Reservations still suffer with some of the highest rates of poverty and unemployment and the shortest life-expectancy in the nation. Increasingly, these social issues are being addressed with gaming revenues.  By state law, the Pueblos’ and Tribes’ share of casino profits are to be used to fund community services, economic development projects, and Pueblo/Tribal government operations.

Pair of Bear Paw Black Water Jars attributed to Margaret Tafoya    c. 1930   12 x 10.5 each

Pair of Bear Paw Black Water Jars attributed to Margaret Tafoya c. 1930 12 x 10.5 each

For example, Ohkay Owingeh (formerly San Juan Pueblo) used casino revenues to capitalize its tribal construction company, Tse Construction Services, providing jobs for Pueblo residents as well as non-Indians around the state. Pojoaque and Acoma Pueblos have built museums and cultural centers for use of their members as well as to attract tourism. All of the gaming Pueblos/Tribes have used casino proceeds to fund much needed housing, health care, and education services. Sandia Pueblo, which operates the State’s largest casino, is now able to send its members to any school, anywhere, free of cost.

The entire state of New Mexico also directly benefits from Tribal gaming. In 2006, the thirteen gaming Pueblos and Tribes contributed more than 51 million dollars in casino revenues to the New Mexico State Treasury. From two-thirds to three-quarters of casino employees are non-native New Mexicans, spreading payrolls far beyond reservation boundaries and enhancing tax revenues for the State.

In just over a decade, Tribal gaming has grown into one of the State’s largest industries, bringing in tourism dollars, contributing to New Mexico’s growth, and raising the standard of living for our State’s Native American communities., Courtesy John Brooks, Inc.

Tribal Casinos

Acoma Pueblo
Sky City Casino, Interstate 40, Exit
102, Acoma, NM 87034

Isleta Pueblo
Isleta Casino Resort, 11000 Broadway
SE, Albuquerque, NM 87105

Palace West Casino, at the “Y” inter
section of Coors and Isleta Rd,
Albuquerque, NM, 505.869.4102

Jicarilla Apache Tribe
Best Western Jicarilla Inn & Casino
US Hwy. 64, Jicarilla Blvd., Dulce,
NM 87528, 800.742.1938

Apache Nugget Casino, at Hwy 550/537,
Cuba, NM 87013, 505.759.3777
San Felipe Pueblo
Casino Hollywood, 25 Hagen Road
San Felipe Pueblo, NM 87001

Casino Hollywood, 505.867.6700

Ohkay Owingeh
formally San Juan Pueblo
Ohkay Casino, Highway 68
2 miles North of Espanola
San Juan Pueblo, NM 87566
800.752.9286, 505.747.5525

Sandia Pueblo
Sandia Casino, Tramway Road and
 Interstate 25 Exit 234, Albuquerque,
 NM 87113, 800.526.9366

Sandia Resort and Casino
505.796.7500or 800.526.9366

Laguna Pueblo
Route 66 Casino, 14500 Central Ave.
Albuquerque, NM 87121, 866.352.7866

Dancing Eagle Casino
I-40, Exit 108, Casa Blanca, NM

Laguna Development Corporation
866.352.RT66 (7866) or 866.711.STAY (7829)

Mescalero Apache Tribe
Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and
Casino Apache, 287 Carrizo Canyon
Rd, Mescalero, NM 88340

Casino Apache Travel Center,
Mescalero, NM, 800.545.9011

Pojoaque Pueblo
Cities of Gold Casino, 10-B Cities of
Gold Road, Santa Fe, NM 87506
800.455.3313 or 505.455.3313

Cities of Gold Sports Bar, 10-A Cities
of Gold Road, Santa Fe, NM 87506

Santa Ana Pueblo
Santa Ana Star Casino, 54 Jemez
Canyon Dam Road, Bernalillo, NM
 87004, 505.867.0000

Santa Clara Pueblo
Big Rock Casino, 460A North
Riverside Dr., Espanola, NM 87532
866.BIG.ROCK or 505.367.4582

Taos Pueblo
Taos Mountain Casino, Main Pueblo
Road, Taos, NM 87571
888.WIN.TAOS or 575.737.0777

Tesuque Pueblo
Camel Rock Casino, 17486A Highway
84/285, Santa Fe, NM 87504
800.462.2635 (800.GO.CAMEL)

New Mexico Indian Gaming
Association (NMIGA)
Charles Dorame, Chairman
2401 12th Street NW, Ste 211 - N
Albuquerque, NM 87104
Phone: 505.724.3575
Fax: 505.724.3588


Return to Santa Fe Art Articles


Permission to reproduce photos and paintings in this website secured by Mark Sublette. All rights reserved. No portion of this website may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from Mark Sublette, Medicine Man Gallery, Inc.™