Kate Spilde Contreras (MA Anth 1993) has been named to the endowed chairship of the Sycuan Institute on Tribal Gaming at San Diego State University, with a concurrent appointment as an associate professor in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. She goes to San Diego State from UC-Riverside, where she was managing director of The Center for California Native Nations.
Spilde Contreras was born and raised on the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota. Her mother is a teacher there. Her husband, Michael Contreras, is vice president of construction development and facilities for the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians, owner of Valley View Casino in Valley Center, CA.
"We will be dedicating some of the institute's money to research on Indian gaming,” Spilde Contreras told the San Diego Metropolitan in June. “The institute already has funded small research projects over the past two years. One of the current grantees is doing a historical study of gambling among the Kumeyaay."
At GW, Kate Spilde did her thesis research on drug dealers, and did not focus on Indian gaming until her doctoral work at UC-Santa Cruz. Besides a PhD from there, she holds an MBA from San Diego State.
Spilde Contreras was project director of a study of the impacts of Indian gaming in California that was released in 2006 by The Center for California Native Nations. One of the study's findings was that census tracts in close proximity to gaming reservations experienced significantly greater income growth than tracts not in close proximity. These positive income effects were progressive, the study said, with poorer areas receiving larger economic benefits -- in the form of increased family income -- than better-off areas. The study said the establishment of gaming had beneficial effects on poverty, employment, educational expansion and the receipt of public assistance.