September 27, 2010

Gaming tribes must take the lead

A column on fighting stereotypes says gaming tribes must take the lead:

Apathy in Indian Country Cuts Both Ways

By Harold A. MonteauI believe that Indian Country is developing an attitude of “I have mine, the rest of you are on your own.” I’m not saying it runs to every tribe, every leader, every Indian, because I think that some understand that no tribe is an island and that if we don’t look out for our brother and sister tribes we may be left standing alone someday, when they come to attack our tribe. But others are so busy reveling in their new found wealth and power they have forgotten the number one rule of the warrior; never leave a comrade behind on the field of battle.

I have written in this column many times on the issue of what the wealthy tribes can do to bring the less fortunate tribes along for the ride. Until the wealthy tribes, as a whole, develop a strategy for “partnering” with less fortunate tribes so they too can find a niche in the good fortune, the apathy we are witnessing may grow. What can we do together to help the less fortunate tribes build lasting economic impacts on their homelands?
Comment:  Monteau's solution is for gaming tribes to buy more from other tribes and Indian-owned businesses. That's fine as far as it goes, but it doesn't address what's happening in our government or society.

Gaming tribes are doing a lot already: backing collective organizations such as NCAI and NIGA, lobbying the federal and state governments, funding museum and university programs, giving generously to charities, etc. What they aren't doing is getting their message into the public dialogue--the marketplace of ideas.

The way to do that is through the popular media. Why aren't tribes making their own movies? Sponsoring reality TV shows? Placing ads on radio shows or billboards? Hiring someone famous to be their national spokesperson? All these steps and more would help improve their public image.

True, they're publicizing their own casinos, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about publicizing the existence of sovereign tribes as modern, vibrant, forward-looking people. That's the kind of message we don't see nearly enough of in the media.

For more on the subject, see Tribes Aren't Educating People and Tribes Need Better PR.

Below:  Mark Macarro's television commercials helped changed the perception of California's gaming tribes.

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