Apathy in Indian Country Cuts Both Ways
By Harold A. Monteau
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?
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.