Meskwaki reject alcohol sales at casino 4-13-07

TAMA, Iowa (AP) - Members of the Meskwaki tribe have rejected the sale of alcohol at its casino and hotel.

The unofficial tally from Thursday's vote was 143 in favor of selling alcohol and 166 opposed.

Alcohol has never been sold on the Meskwaki Settlement near Tama since it was first established in 1857.

While many tribal members wanted to maintain the ban, citing health risks associated with drinking, others saw alcohol sales as an economic opportunity.

There are 19 casinos in Iowa and the Meskwaki casino is the only one where alcohol is not sold.

Tribal member Rhonda Pushetonequa said the vote has been a main topic of discussion for weeks.

She said the casino needs to be competitive, but people have suffered from alcohol use.

``It has been our downfall,'' she said.

Larry Lasley, the tribe's executive director, said the referendum was intended to resolve the debate about the moral and philosophical effects of selling alcohol on the settlement.