Church Rock, N.M., will be the site of the first Navajo casino. Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley on Friday approved $35 million in loans to allow construction to begin.

The project has been in the making since November 2004, when Navajo voters approved gaming.

"You're making history on behalf of the Navajo Nation for being the chapter who will have the first casino built on your land because you wanted it," Shirley said, speaking at the Church Rock Chapter House.

Work may now begin on the roughly 27,000-square-foot casino to be built along Interstate 40, according to a statement. The casino is expected to have 300 slot machines, table games, entertainment and a small cafe.

Shirley said the casino will provide employment to Navajos who work during construction and will start a revenue flow to the nation through sales tax paid during construction. Groundbreaking for the casino is expected in May.