March 02, 2008

Unions vs. tribes

Conway:  Sovereignty is more than just a wordIn the Hartford proceedings, the board and the union said they "respect" tribal sovereignty. What their actions said was that while they respect tribal sovereignty in concept, they cannot tolerate the exercise of that sovereignty.

I couldn't help but contrast what I heard with the real words of presidential executive orders, congressional legislation and court decisions that support tribal self-determination and a commitment to deal with tribes on a "government-to-government" basis.

Those words are being ignored with devastating effects by the blind and blanket imposition of the National Labor Relations Act on Indian tribes and their gaming enterprises.

Some in Indian country have counseled against pursuing this challenge. They fear too much could be lost.

Yet there is no good choice for tribes. The imposition of the NLRA is unlike that of any other statute that is silent as to Indian tribes, because it inserts a third party into tribal employment without any acknowledgment of the profound impact that it has on tribal laws, institutions and structures. Does it mean that the tribe's labor relations law is void? How about the tribe's right to work law, the tribal employee review code, the tribal civil rights law or the tribal gaming law?
For more on more the subject, see The Facts About Indian Gaming and The Facts About Tribal Sovereignty.


writerfella said...

Writerfellahere --
Oh, yeah? Well, read this and weep...

Santa Fe, NM (AP - 3/1)
Gov. Bill Richardson on Wednesday ordered state police to block access to a high-stakes bingo parlor built in southern New Mexico by Oklahoma's Fort Sill Apache Tribe.
Richardson said he was forced to take action after receiving no assurances from the federal government that it would either approve or reject the tribe's plan for a gaming operation at the 30-acre site at Akela.
"We have emphatically stated our opposition to what clearly would be an illegal gaming operation in the state of New Mexico," Richardson said in a statement. "Because the federal government is abdicating its responsibility, I have no choice but to take immediate and forceful action to protect the citizens of New Mexico and the integrity of our gaming laws."
Tribal Chairman Jeff Houser told Albuquerque television station KRQE that the tribe would not be intimidated or harassed.
"This is completely inappropriate for a governor to meddle in tribal or federal affairs," Houser said.
A message seeking comment was left with the National Indian Gaming Commission in Washington, D.C.
The New Mexico Gaming Control Board, which has been monitoring the situation, said it had learned the casino may open as soon as Thursday, but Houser said the casino is still under construction and it could be a month before it's ready.
Houser said in a news release last week that the tribe was still working with the National Indian Gaming Commission on regulatory issues related to the project.
"We are confident that we will receive the necessary approvals," he said in the release, and "...we look forward to joining Governor Richardson's Invest In New Mexico initiative and working alongside the governor to build a stronger economy and a better quality of life for all New Mexicans right here in southern New Mexico."
The tribe said that more than 400 people attended its job fair in Deming two weeks ago for the planned casino.
The federal government holds the land in trust for the Fort Sill tribe, which has been putting up portable buildings for the bingo parlor.
Houser said last month the bingo parlor is a test for the tribe and that the tribe has no specific plans for a full-blown casino.
The governor's office said that when the land was taken into federal trust for the tribe in June 2002, it was done with the explicit condition that it was not to be used for gaming purposes. It also said the tribe had passed a resolution stating it would not use the land for gaming.
The tribe cited a recent opinion from the NIGC in a case involving the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska that is relevant to the Apaches' situation. In that case, Houser said, the NIGC said the law "prevents us from granting either a remedy to the state or imposing a consequence on the tribe" when a tribe changes its intentions for a parcel of trust land.
The NIGC earlier this month asked the governor's office for comment on the proposed gaming operation. Paul Bardacke, Richardson's special counsel on gaming issues, answered that the state was opposed.
Under Riohardson's order, state police will block access to the site from the general public, but not to tribal members or workers employed by the tribe.
State police officers and officers with the state Motor Transportation Division were at the site Wednesday evening and plans were being made to keep them posted there through Thursday, said Peter Olson, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety.
"That's why we're here, to make sure the illegal casino is not frequented by people," he said.
"We've got a very large presence," he added.
The state believes the tribe hasn't met specified exceptions set out in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act to qualify to game on land taken into trust after October 1988.
Greg Saunders, a spokesman for the New Mexico Gaming Control Board, said Wednesday that a tribe must follow both a state and federal process before being allowed to offer either Class 2 gaming, such as high-stakes bingo, or higher levels of gaming that include slot machines and house-backed games.
"They need to work with the state for state approval and they need to do what they need to do with the feds. It's a process that we go through. You just don't open up a casino," he said.
The members of the Fort Sill Apache Tribe of Apache, Okla., are descended from the Chiricahua and Warm Springs Apaches of southwestern New Mexico, southeastern Arizona and northern Mexico. Their ancestors were removed from those areas in the 1880s and sent first to Florida and later to Oklahoma.

Never mind the unions! The Indian Wars still are ongoing! One must ask, are the state police authorized to use deadly force "to protect the citizens of New Mexico and integrity of (the) gaming laws"? Look out, it's the Apaches! And they're armed with bingo cards! Aiiieee!
All Best
Russ Bates
POSTSCRIPTUM: OMG, writerfella has hit it! He's going to call Michael Darrow, the Ft. Sill Apaches' museum curator, and make this suggestion -- HIRE anyone and everyone that wants to frequent the casino! Give them tribal employee IDs the same way they give out tribal casino memberships! That way, Gov. Richardson can't stop ANYBODY from attending the casino! Boy, will he be pissed, moreso than he was when he had to give up his bid for the 2008 Presidential race! Love it, love it, love it!

Rob said...

I read this article and several others like it. I'm one of the people who disseminates such articles to Indian country, remember?

As you implied, this article isn't relevant to the issue of unions. Perhaps this explains why you don't run your own blog: You can't stay on topic.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
But it is relevant because it also is revelant, at one and the same time. The unions and state governments and even the NIGC itself are enterprises of 'the dominant culture,' ipso facto. WHEN all are assailing Native gaming at once, then WHICH and WHAT and WHERE and HOW reveals the reality of WHO and WHY it is occurring...
In any case, where is the importance to remain on topic on this blog when important topics don't remain on this blog for more than 48 hours?
All Best
Russ Bates

Rob said...

There's no such word as "revelant." Oops.

Every item remains on the main page for seven days and in the archives permanently. Since it's been that way for almost two years, I'm surprised you haven't caught on by now.

Staying on topic is important because I don't want the comments section cluttered with irrelevant nonsense. As I've told you before, start your own blog if you want to sound off about something.