NEW TOWN The Three Affiliated Tribes' new 149-passenger yacht marks a first in North Dakota.
Tex Hall, tribal chairman, said the 4 Bears Casino, a facility west of New Town owned by the Three Affiliated Tribes, is the only casino in the state with a boat.
After a ceremony Wednesday afternoon at the 4 Bears Marina and dock, west of New Town, about 75 special guests boarded the yacht for its maiden voyage an excursion trip with dinner and entertainment on Lake Sakakawea. Calvin Grinnell provided the cultural interpretation for the trip and Jackie Bird entertained with her singing.
During the ceremony, with the yacht in the background, Pat Packineau, 4 Bears Casino & Lodge general manager, said the yacht project started about a year ago. The casino will operate the yacht. He said the dock system was temporary but work will start Sept. 1 to install a permanent dock.
Flanked by the colors posted by a color guard from Mandaree, Delvin Driver, who gave the traditional blessing, said this was "a historic day." He said he was praying "for good things to come" with the vessel.
Hall told the crowd that Wednesday was "a very exciting day" for the tribes. "We're back at the river," he said, in reference to much earlier days of the tribes.
Mayors of Minot, New Town and Parshall were among those viewing the new yacht.
"We work with Minot very well," Hall said.
Packineau pointed out that Minot is "one of our main markets just east of us."
Hall said the tribes are working with New Town on a very important project to get a bypass around the city.
Curt Zimbelman, Minot mayor, congratulated the tribes for their "beautiful boat" and that they will have "another one coming." He and his wife, Linda, were among the guests going on the cruise on the lake.
The present yacht will be used this season for dinner and entertainment. Next year another yacht will be for gaming.
Daryl Lies, representing Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., suggested Hall and other tribal officials should invite others in state government to go on the yacht for a trip on the lake to show them more about what is in the area.
V. Judy Brugh, Four Bears area representative to the tribal business council, commended the council for moving forward on the project.
Casino customers who have earned a specific amount of points at the casino will be able to schedule a cruise first and later cruises will be open to others. For more information about the cruises contact the 4 Bears Casino & Lodge.