Another Stereotype of the Month entry:
From the LA Times, 4/9/03:
Indian Groups See L.A. as Likely Spot for a Casino — Maybe Two
By Steve Lopez
Do you like gambling?
Do you like it Vegas-style?
If the answer is yes and yes, then you may not have to travel far to lose your money in the near future. Two factions of the Gabrielino-Tongva tribe are at each other's throats, allegedly over plans to erect a casino in the middle of Los Angeles.
"Any casino would be located in the Los Angeles Basin, the historic and state-recognized home of the Tongva Nation," says a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. At last count, the "nation" consisted of about 400 people.
"A well-located casino may operate up to 2,000 slot machines and earn over $200 million in revenues per year from these devices alone," the suit says.
Yeah, and what better way to honor their ancestors than to throw up another cheesy casino?
I say we put it next to the La Brea Tar Pits, where, according to the suit, a Tongva woman was trapped 7,000 years ago. She's long gone, but maybe we can rescue her heritage at TongvaWorld Tar Pits & Casino: Where Your Luck's Bound to be Better than Hers!
Anthony Morales, leader of the Tongva faction that was sued, says his group isn't interested in a casino "right now." The San Gabriel construction worker says he just wants "the benefits due to tribes, like housing, medical services, education, and stuff like that."
Somehow I'm not convinced, even though attorney Jack Schwartz argues that Morales' group was trying to get federal recognition long before Indian gambling was approved in California.
The other side of the dispute makes no bones about its intentions. They want a casino, and they claim the Morales family shoved them aside to "preempt potentially lucrative gaming rights that may arise upon federal recognition of the Gabrielino-Tongva tribe," the suit says.
I looked up the attorney representing the Tongva faction that sued. Oddly enough, lawyer Jonathan Stein and the Gabrielino-Tongva Tribal Council, as the aggrieved party calls itself, list the same Santa Monica address.
I went to TongvaTribe.org and saw Stein's photo along with those of other Tongva principles. He doesn't look Tongva to me, but you never know.
Stein is listed as a "tribal developer" and calls himself a longtime "associate member of National Indian Gaming Assn., California Indian Gaming Assn. and more recently the Great Plains Indian Gaming Assn."
When he returned my call, I told him I had some questions about the case.
"Are you writing an article?" he asked.
This guy's quick.
"About what subject?" he asked.
I repeated the obvious.
"What are the rules for the interview?" he insisted.
Rules for the interview?
"I ask questions," I said. "And you answer them."
"Well, I usually don't give interviews on that basis," he said.
I was unaware of any other basis.
"I'm a good lawyer," Stein went on, "and I do my arguing in court."
Yes, I'd say he's a good lawyer. The guy can talk forever and say nothing at all.
He seemed to think I was going to call him again before I began to write, and read his quotes back to him so he could "say yay or nay."
I said nay to that.
"How long have you been doing your business?" he asked.
About 30 years, I said.
He told me he'd been doing his for 20 years, including 16 in L.A. "But I'm probably going to be doing it another 25."
Very impressive, Chief Running Mouth. But by the way:
"What's that have to do with anything?"
The conversation ended shortly thereafter, so I was not able to ask Stein: A) why an Indian tribe named for San Gabriel is based in his Santa Monica office, and B) what percentage of the $200 million in annual slot revenues he expects to pocket as "tribal developer."
Maybe next time.
John Hensley, who heads the state Gambling Control Commission, doesn't rule out a Gabrielino-Tongva casino at some point, but says it's unlikely. The landless tribe hasn't met the criteria for national recognition, and even if it does, there's one more obstacle.
"Gov. Gray Davis has consistently said there will be no gambling in urban areas," Hensley says.
Maybe so, but Davis is the main reason Indian tribes own California. He and other pols have shamelessly carried off sacks of Indian cash, and the casino lobby always gets its way.
Cheryl Schmit, of Stand Up for California, said she believes both sides in the Gabrielino-Tongva rift want a casino, and both could hit the jackpot. If they kiss and make up, they could each win the right to open a casino. And it won't be hard to find financial backers who want in on the action.
Schmit said it is just a matter of time before we have a casino in downtown L.A., Ventura or Orange County.
"I think the tribal governors are setting up L.A. for gaming," Schmit said, citing campaign contributions to Mayor Jim Hahn and other local pushovers.
Reminds me of an old Indian saying: For money, even the dog dances.
See you at TongvaWorld.
Steve Lopez writes Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Reach him at steve.lopez@latimes .com.
Copyright 2003 Los Angeles Times
Correction: For The Record
Los Angeles Times
Friday April 11, 2003
Lopez column — A column by Steve Lopez in Wednesday's California section quoted Anthony Morales as saying that his faction of the Gabrielino-Tongva Indian tribe was not interested in a casino in Los Angeles "right now." Morales said his comment to Lopez was: "Right now we are seeking federal recognition for the benefits of housing, medical services, education, land base and preservation of sacred land."
Lopez's screed contains several stereotypical and otherwise prejudicial statements. Namely:
>> At last count, the "nation" consisted of about 400 people. <<
Indian nations get their status from the Constitution, not their number of people.
>> Yeah, and what better way to honor their ancestors than to throw up another cheesy casino? <<
Most casinos are solid entertainment businesses, not "cheesy" dives. And most tribes establish them to help their people, not to honor their ancestors. And not to enrich themselves, which is what Lopez really believes.
>> Somehow I'm not convinced, even though attorney Jack Schwartz argues that Morales' group was trying to get federal recognition long before Indian gambling was approved in California. <<
Lopez probably isn't "convinced" because he misunderstood and misquoted Morales, as the subsequent correction shows. And if the Tongvas sought federal recognition before Indian gaming was approved, how could Indian gaming be their motive? Perhaps Lopez isn't convinced because he can't think straight.
>> I went to TongvaTribe.org and saw Stein's photo along with those of other Tongva principles. He doesn't look Tongva to me, but you never know. <<
With the mixed blood in many Indian tribes, you never do know. But the Gabrielino-Tongva Tribal Council isn't claiming Stein as a member.
>> Very impressive, Chief Running Mouth. <<
"Chief Running Mouth" insults genuine Indian chiefs and Indians in general for having unconventional names.
>> The conversation ended shortly thereafter, so I was not able to ask Stein: A) why an Indian tribe named for San Gabriel is based in his Santa Monica office <<
The conversation presumably ended because Lopez belittled Stein every time Stein spoke. The Gabrielino-Tongvas lived throughout the LA basin, including Santa Monica, or Lopez wouldn't be writing about their building a casino in LA. To think that because a tribe is called "Gabrielino" it must be located in San Gabriel shows a profound ignorance of LA history.
>> John Hensley, who heads the state Gambling Control Commission, doesn't rule out a Gabrielino-Tongva casino at some point, but says it's unlikely. The landless tribe hasn't met the criteria for national recognition, and even if it does, there's one more obstacle. <<
Exactly. Apparently, Lopez is bashing Indians for reasons unrelated to the seriousness of the casino "threat."
>> Maybe so, but Davis is the main reason Indian tribes own California. He and other pols have shamelessly carried off sacks of Indian cash, and the casino lobby always gets its way. <<
That would explain why legislation to protect sacred sites and ban Indian mascots has failed to get passed repeatedly.
>> Cheryl Schmit, of Stand Up for California, said she believes both sides in the Gabrielino-Tongva rift want a casino, and both could hit the jackpot. <<
The anti-Indian Cheryl Schmit is about the most biased commentator Lopez could quote, proving his utter lack of objectivity.
>> Reminds me of an old Indian saying: For money, even the dog dances. <<
I never heard of that "old Indian saying." A Google search suggests the phrase is 1) Spanish, not Native, and 2) incredibly obscure. To imply Indians have no legitimate concerns and will prostitute their cultures for money sounds like racism to me.
The critics of Indian gaming—and why they're wrong
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