CLARMORE, OKLAHOMA — Mike Wheeler, general manager at Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs, devotes much of his time and career to assisting others.
Wheeler, a Cherokee citizen, began work with Cherokee Nation Businesses in 2006 as a member of the Leadership Development program and has since worked in management at multiple Cherokee Casinos. He is quick to highlight the many benefits of working and growing within CNE, especially the ability to support others.
“I always knew I wanted to work within the Native American community,” said Wheeler. “I wanted to work in some sort of capacity that allowed me to help others.”
A native of Tahlequah, Wheeler devotes his time both professionally and personally to many issues affecting Native Americans. He has found his niche in management by helping employees pursue their own professional growth and opportunities.
Wheeler said he also enjoys working in gaming because the revenues provide services for his fellow Cherokee Nation citizens. In 2012, Cherokee Nation Entertainment reinvested 65 percent of its profits – $78.6 million – into job creation and business development for Cherokee citizens.
“It’s Cherokees working together to benefit other Cherokees. It just doesn’t get better than that,” Wheeler said.
Having personally seen the effects of diabetes, Wheeler donates much of his personal time to spreading awareness of the diabetes epidemic amongst Native Americans. He focuses his volunteer efforts with the American Diabetes Association on educating others about healthy eating and living.
A family man, the married father of two said he and his wife also show respect for their Native American heritage by attending powwows and culturally significant events.
Wheeler says it is fulfilling to know the money CNE makes goes to employees and their relatives and communities. He believes helping others is important and plans to expand his efforts even more when his children, who are 2 and 3 years old, get a little older.
“It’s very important to continue developing as people,” said Wheeler. “I am fortunate enough to work within my own tribe while aiding others in discovering the many benefits and advancement opportunities that are available.”