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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

Editorial -- Sonoma to pay for sins of white settlers

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, when Greg Sarris, tribal spokesman for the Graton Miwok Rancheria, was lobbying congress in 2000 for recognition of his tribe, he told a newspaper reporter, "...we don't want to get into slot machines and hard-core gaming, because it is addictive and destructive in people's lives."

He also testified before a congressional committee that, if recognized, his tribe would not seek to establish a casino. He went further, telling the congressional representatives, "...as a result of Proposition 1A in California, one of the provisions or stipulations is that tribes cannot establish gaming on newly acquired trust land."

If that was not a lie, Sonoma Valley residents would have no cause for concern about the tribe's proposal to establish a large-scale casino resort at the intersection of Highway 37 and Lakeville Highway.

Fast forward to this week at a meeting between Sarris and Sonoma Mayor Dick Ashford, Councilman Ken Brown and City Manager Mike Fuson in which Ashford expressed concern for the casino's negative impact on the quality of life. Sarris responded that Sonoma residents got their quality of life "...on the backs of my ancestors."

In Santa Rosa Wednesday night, Mary Moore, described by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat as a "longtime activist," summed up the prevailing attitude of tribal casino supporters when she responded to objections that tribes are not bound to local land-use and zoning rules. According to the PD, she said that was too bad. "It's time for the white folks to back down."

Behind all of the false promises from the casino advocates is an attitude that a debt is being called in. It is a debt allegedly incurred by early white settlers who "stole" the land from the indigenous inhabitants more than a century and a half ago.

If reparations are due, then by all means the United States, through its government, should negotiate with the tribes on the terms. The burden of the debt should be borne equally by all citizens, not just those in certain communities.

In this case, a few greedy people are misusing a law for personal gain to the detriment of local residents.

Sarris and his powerful Democratic Party friends and Las Vegas gambling partners don't care about Sonoma's quality of life, or the destruction that gambling causes. They'll say and do anything to get what they want. They're going to get rich and justify it by pointing to the alleged sins of our forefathers.

At least we know where we stand and what kind of people we're dealing with.

- Bill Lynch, Editor

Rob's reply
The early white settlers didn't "steal" the land from the indigenous inhabitants, they stole it. The sins of Lynch's forefathers aren't "alleged," they're documented and proved.

Most tribes aren't getting rich from Indian gaming, they're alleviating decades of poverty. It's not "greedy" for them to join the economic mainstream. Millions of Americans are trying to do the same thing.

And if Sarris and company were "greedy," so what? Isn't that the American way? Has Lynch written against every Wal-Mart or mega-mall that destroyed a town's mom 'n' pop ambiance? He must be very, very busy—or a hypocrite and possible racist.

As for Lynch's claim that Indians will "say and do anything to get what they want," that's a grotesque exaggeration unsupported by the facts. Time, not rhetoric, will show what the Graton Rancheria will do to establish a casino.

Related links
Too-powerful Indians
Rich Indians
Greedy Indians
The critics of Indian gaming—and why they're wrong

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Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.

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