LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. — The Osage Nation has announced they will be building a $60 million hotel complex and casino at Lake of the Ozarks.

In one of the most substantial economic development initiatives for the region in years, the Osage Nation announces plans to develop a new entertainment district at the Lake of the Ozarks including a new hotel complex that will feature a casino, restaurants, entertainment, and more. The project is expected to be completed in multiple phases with an estimated $60 million investment in the region, bringing new jobs, tourism and revenue for the Lake of the Ozarks community.

In addition to the entertainment center, the project will include infrastructure and land improvements, additional lodging and long-term parking.

This project is not connected to the investment group, Osage River Gaming, which has been working to bring a casino to the Lake area for several years. That group is beholden to the Missouri Gaming Commission and the state law that currently only allows casinos to be build on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. The Osage Nation is not subject to those rules.

Back In Our Homeland

“We have established very good relationships with several communities in Missouri and seek to have a presence back in our homeland,” Osage Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear said. 

Historically, the Osage Nation once thrived in Missouri with a population of as many as 200,000 members of the Osage Tribe at its height. The Osage Tribe’s historical influence in the Lake region is still found today in homages such as City of Osage Beach, Osage County, and School of the Osage.

On Sept. 7, Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear addressed the 2021 Tzi-Zho Session of the Osage Nation Congress, hinting at this move into Lake of the Ozarks, according to the Examiner-Enterprise. He said then that by October, the nation would begin working to "tell the people of the United States this is our homeland; this is our legal, recognized homeland." He added, "There are treaties in place that we did not fully agree with that drove us out of there and we want to claim those properties."

"We are going to have to understand there are reactions that will be made and our work in Jefferson City, the state capital, must pay dividends to us and for the state of Missouri, in amounts and in ways which are yet to be determined," Chief Standing Bear said at that congress. He also said he believed the way to rebuild the nation is "land acquisition, a strong recovered language and maintaining our wonderful culture which you all participate in and which we have."

As they have done in similar projects, the Osage Nation says they plan to give back to the surrounding communities through philanthropic contributions to local schools, law enforcement and other first responders, local charities and community improvement projects. The Osage Nation has also committed to leveraging local vendors and local businesses whenever possible to provide products and services for the facilities.

Missouri state and local officials together with tourism leaders and other stakeholders expressed support for the new economic development project.

"I am happy the Osage Nation is exploring economic development opportunities in their ancestral homeland,” said State Senator Mike Bernskoetter (R- Jefferson City). “It sounds like a promising opportunity to bring jobs to Missouri and I am looking forward to working with the Osage Nation as this project develops."

“This is a tremendous opportunity for the Lake region and our entire state,” State Senator Justin Brown (R-Rolla). “I look forward to working with the Osage Nation, community leaders, and my colleagues in the Legislature to make this a reality and welcome the Nation home.”

“We are excited to welcome any new development to Lake of the Ozarks that can help grow our tourism community,” Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Heather Brown said. “We are looking forward to developing a partnership with the Osage Nation’s new entertainment district at the Lake of the Ozarks. As a CVB, we have been supporting and advocating for economic development and tourism in the tri-county region since 1932.” 

"We appreciate the investment and vision that the Osage Nation is willing to make in the great State of Missouri,” said Missouri Hotel and Lodging Association Board President Trey Propes. “Experienced strategic partners such as the Osage Nation not only bring the obvious jobs, capital and business acumen to this project but also a genuine desire to see the people of the Lake of the Ozarks region and Missouri Tourism prosper and thrive for years to come. The Missouri Hotel and Lodging Association looks forward to working with Osage Nation and the people of the Lake Region to grow Missouri's ever important and expanding tourism industry right along with them."

According to the Missouri Department of Economic Development Division of Tourism, tourism in Miller County, where the project will be located, currently generates approximately $40.7 million and 682 jobs annually to the overall impact of tourism in the state. In Camden County, tourism is responsible for $187.45 million and 3,958 jobs.

There are currently tribal casinos in 30 states nationally, and it is one of the fastest growing gaming sectors in the U.S. In 1988, Congress established the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). This federal law provides tribes and states with a legal framework to develop tribal gaming and is the reason the U.S. has tribal casinos. This process was established to generate the infrastructure for tribal economic development through tribal government operations, infrastructure, social services and financial programs, charitable causes and economic development with local and state governments.

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