By Matt Herrick
Since 1988, more than 200 of 562 federally recognized American Indian tribes have initiated casino gambling, often referred to as gaming by the industry. In 2008, these tribes took in gross gambling revenues of nearly $26 billion, according to the National Indian Gaming Association. The money has helped some tribes establish scholarships, career counseling and other business-development services for members. It helps school dropouts attain high school-equivalency degrees years after dropping out.
With higher-education degrees and newfound skills, Indians are returning home to work for tribal businesses and contributing to their communities.
According to an Oneida Nation spokesman, more than half of the tribe's adult members have sought "advanced learning" since the tribe began offering scholarships in 1990. Turning Stone Resort and Casino, the main enterprise, opened in 1993. That generated the revenue that enabled 17 Oneidas to earn college diplomas in 2008: one doctorate, three master's, 10 bachelor's and three associate degrees. Another 77 tribe members are enrolled in college.