Leaders of the Ho-Chunk Nation received exciting news on Friday, May 13, 2022, from the U.S. Department of the Interior when Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs called to announce the tribe’s 33-acres in Beloit, Wisconsin was put into trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. 

The announcement sets in motion the Ho-Chunk Nation’s planned project to construct a $405 million casino in Beloit, The project plans to build one of the largest casinos in the state. It will also include a waterpark, hotel, and convention center–all of which will be built at a later date. Construction is planned to start later this year.

Beloit is near the Wisconsin and Illinois border. The casino is expected to be a magnet to attrack gamblers from nearby Chicago, the country's third-largest metropolitan area.  

Never miss Indian Country’s biggest stories and breaking news. Sign up to get our reporting sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning. 

“The Beloit project will be underway just as we are reckoning with the economic uncertainty and confident recovery from the pandemic. This investment in gaming will bring back several times the return so that we can invest in other economic opportunities as well as addressing the critical needs of our people,” Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature Vice President Karena Thundercloud said in a statement on Friday. “We know that this project will keep our Nation strong.”

Twelve Clans, Inc. Sovereign Wealth Fund (Section 17 Wholly Owned by the Ho-Chunk Nation), the entity focused on investments and building the tribal economy, is set to move forward with a proposal to support the overall development and success of the casino and surrounding area. It is not uncommon for tribal business entities to participate in a variety of different businesses; including casino management and development. Twelve Clans, Inc. indicated in their 3rd quarter update to shareholders that the Beloit development was discussed as a viable option.

“We congratulate the leadership and celebrate the long-awaited finalization of the land into trust for the Ho-Chunk citizens and support their nation and their ability to exercise their economic sovereignty. Twelve Clans, Inc. Sovereign Wealth Fund has implemented a new strategy and look forward to provide support and guidance using the expertise and experience of our Board and advisors, especially with development, gaming and project finance,” Eric S. Trevan, Ph.D., Chairman of Twelve Clans, Inc Sovereign Wealth Fund told Native News Online.

The potential involvement of Twelve Clans into the project adds a possible new direction to how the Ho-Chunk Nation has owned and operated its previous casinos, which separates some of its business activities from the governance of the tribe. 

“It’s essential that the Ho-Chunk Nation separates its business enterprises from its government activities. The end goal will significantly advance the financial interests of the Nation and its citizens,” Dan Brown, Ho-Chunk tribal citizen as well as the Executive Manager of Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison

In Brown’s opinion, the unintended consequences  of operating in this inefficient manner has led to stagnance and indecision by elected people who possess no business education, no substantive business background and no demonstrable business acumen. 

The 33-acres put into trust by the BIA is adjacent to 70-acres previously bought in 2009 by the Ho-Chunk Nation. 

This casino will be the seventh casino in addition to the Ho-Chunk Gaming Black River Falls in Black River Falls, Wisconsin, Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison in Madison, Wisconsin, Ho-Chunk Gaming Nekoosa in Nekoosa, Wisconsin, Ho-Chunk Gaming Tomah in Tomah, Wisconsin, Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells in Baraboo, Wisconsin, Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg in Wittenberg, Wisconsin.

The Ho-Chunk Nation has also agreed to a revenue sharing agreement with the City of Beloit and Rock County. Both will be paid $3 million annually. 

You’re reading the first draft of history. 

November is  Native American Heritage Month in the United States. We feel like every month — and every day — is a reason for celebrating Native Americans and our heritage. That’s what we try to do here at Native News Online, with stories each day that celebrate, inform and uplift American Indian and Alaska Native people. Over the past year or so, we have been especially busy with three important reporting projects that are having an impact across Indian Country:

  • Indian Boarding Schools. We’ve reported and published more than 150 stories and special live stream video events to help shine a light on the dark era of boarding schools — and help create momentum for change.
  • Native Health Desk. Launched in January, this reporting initiative was created to heighten awareness of Native American health inequities and spotlight pockets of progress in Indian Country. So far we’ve reported and published nearly 120 stories and launched a monthly health newsletter that reaches more than 23,000 readers.  
  • Native Bidaske. In March, we launched this live stream interview program to highlight the work of Native Americans who are making news and leading change in Indian Country.  We have hosted guests from the federal government and Native rights advocates as well as Indigenous actors, comedians, journalists and models.   

We hope you will join us in celebrating Native American heritage and history this November and invite you to consider the old adage that “Journalism is the first draft of history.” If you appreciate the voice Native News Online gives to Native American people, we hope you will support our work with a donation so we can build our newsroom and continue to amplify Native voices and Native perspectives.

Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.  Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10.  Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news. 

Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.