June 12, 2009

Calif. tribes are "highly questionable"?

Virulently anti-Indian articles have been relatively rare recently. That's a change from the early 2000s, when the press published a few of these articles every month.

I guess right-wing ideologues have learned that ranting and raving against the law won't change the public's support for Indians. Or perhaps they've actually learned the facts about tribal sovereignty and Indian gaming.

I doubt it, but you never know. Hope springs eternal and all that.

Nevertheless, here's one fellow who hasn't gotten the message. This may be the worst anti-Indian rant we've seen in the last few years.

Out of Touch with Main Street

By Jim MarinoThe pay to play mentality has never been more prevalent than it is today. The historic special interests have been around a long time: unions, big business, medical and legal based associations, prison guards and a number of others.

The newest players are the handful of Indian casino groups, some with only one or two “tribal members,” many with questionable tribal identities and who have been allowed to build and operate full blown class III gambling casinos on land that is not eligible for Indian gambling under federal law.
And:Many highly questionable “tribal” governments have been authorized to open and operate gambling casinos on lands that are not eligible for such gambling operations.

That status as a federally “recognized” Indian entity allows them and the casinos and businesses to evade all of the property taxes, state income taxes and sales taxes and other taxes that are needed by state and local governments.

Those taxes could help pay for the public services and infrastructure used daily by these “tribes,” their casinos and other businesses.

It also entitles them to receive millions of dollars in welfare and grant money over and above the millions they make in profits.
Comment:  I could go through Marino's screed and rebut most of his charges, but I'll concentrate on his core assertions. Yes, I think California has one tribe with only one adult member and another with six or seven. And...so? The state also has more than 100 tribes with hundreds or thousands of members and histories that go back centuries or millennia. No one has ever challenged the authenticity of these tribes.

I don't know what "land that is not eligible for Indian gambling under federal law" Marino is talking about. I doubt he knows either. There are only a handful of off-reservation Indian casinos in the entire country. Something like 95% or 98% of Indian casinos are on land that clearly is eligible for gaming under federal law.

You can see the problem with this shyster's lawyer's "arguments." He doesn't give you any context--any sense of the overall numbers. He takes a few questionable cases that he can't or won't specify and pretends they're the whole. In doing so, he ignores a hundred or so cases of perfectly legitimate gaming operations.

Also note Marino's claim that the statewide vote on the tribal compacts was somehow illegal or unauthorized. The truth is just the opposite. California's voters approved the compacts by a large majority because they support Indian gaming.

Educating Marino about sovereignty

As for his idiotic claims about taxes and government benefits, a schoolchild is probably less ignorant. But for the record, I'll educate this simpleton. One, tribes are sovereign governments just like the federal, state, and local governments. Governments don't tax each other. Two, tribes signed treaties with the US government to give up their land in exchange for government payments. These payments are a treaty obligation, not "welfare."


While we're at it, let's note the feedback loop between articles like this one and movies like Chief Ron. Reports about phony Indians encourage "entertainment" about phony Indians and vice versa. Either way, ideologues are using the media to attack and denigrate Indians.

Why this is happening is obvious. The people in power are worried about the loss of their white privilege to minorities. They're afraid they'll stop getting a free ride and have to shoulder their share of the country's problems. You know, the problems they created by conquering, overbuilding, and polluting much of America.

Below:  The perfectly legitimate Pechanga hotel and casino.

1 comment:

Alva said...

Ugly article. Thanks for taking this one on, Rob.