“Welcome Home.” A phrase that you’ll hear upon entering Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel. It also describes the spirit of the company’s culture and how they share the vibrant landscape and traditional Native American hospitality with all of those who visit. Its mission is to educate and celebrate the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s traditions, values, and history.
For the tribe itself, education is a top priority. When the council met with the State of Idaho 29 years ago to discuss their gaming compact, the tribe insisted that 5% of their net profits went to education. To this day the Coeur d’Alene Casino has given over $35 million to educational organizations in the state of Idaho.
“It keeps growing,” Dee Dee McGowan, Cultural Tourism and Tour Bussing Manager for the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel said.
Coeur d’Alene Casino also educates its guests through its Cultural Tourism programs. McGowan started the Cultural Tourism department 6 years ago. They offer a variety of different tours for guests to choose from including hiking, kayaking, traditional arts, painting workshops, and Authentic Cultural Dinner events with live song, drum and dance, foodie groups, and mystery tours where guests don’t know what they will be experiencing until the morning of the tour.
“My favorite tour is the Majestic Encounters – Eagle Aviary Tour,” McGowan said. “It’s so educational, not only are you learning about the Coeur d’Alene Tribe but you’re also learning about how important eagles are to the tribe.”
Coeur d’Alene Tribe is one of nine tribes in the United States that have a federal permit to own their own eagles. The eagles are rescued and with permanent injuries which means can’t be returned to the wild.
McGowan also partners with local restaurants, businesses, and organizations to create a three-to-seven-day experience for tour groups. Trailbreaker Cider is a local hard cider company that is one of many tours that guests coming in from outside of the area can experience.
“I met Trent at a Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce After 5 Networking Event,” McGowan said. “His facility is amazing, and I love that it’s local. Also, cider is different compared to a brewery or winery, and people like that unique experience.”
Trent Maier, owner of Trailbreaker Cider leads all of the tour groups and shares his story of how it all got started.
“Our local support has grown a lot in the last three years since opening Trailbreaker Cider in 2019, and during some of our hardest months, it was always a breath of fresh air to see Dee Dee and her team arrive with energetic audiences when we most needed it,” Trent said. “One of the reasons we participate in Chamber events is to become connected with all sorts of partners in our community, especially those that offer the benefit of mutual participation and growth. Seeing their tour offerings and the expansion into our industry is great for both of us and look forward to showing others what both of us can offer.”
“I’m trying to build our local tours and working with businesses to see what we can do to create an experience for our travelers,” McGowan said.
The connections made are not just limited to the cultural tours. McGowan also manages sponsorships for the casino.
“We try to be out in the community as much as possible,” she said. “When we sponsor an event, we not only support with in-kind donations or dollars, but we also support in person as well. I think showing a presence and knowing that people can see that we’ve taken the time out of our schedules to be there, and support is really important.”
Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel continuously shows its support in the community by sponsoring, Valleyfest, Spokane Valley Farmers Market, CRAVE, Communities in Schools, Blessings Under the Bridge, Winter Blessing, and much more.
“It’s very important to us that we give back to the community,” McGowan said. “We wouldn’t be here as a casino without the community.”
This article was published in the 2022 Greater Spokane Valley Chamber Magazine.