Another Stereotype of the Month entry:
Let's tap into the casino payload
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
By Robert Mitchell
I have a question: Is it pure coincidence that for the last few years whenever assemblages of Native Americans suddenly discover that they're a tribe, often of which no one including themselves had ever heard until the feds dangled the words "gaming profits" in front of them, they also suddenly discover that the sacred native ancestral lands they just realized they had are remarkably handy to a freeway exit?
OK, two questions: Why is it always politically correct to say "Native Americans" in order to rectify Christopher Columbus' insulting misnomer, except when using the term "Indian gaming"? If the People-Who-Have-Always-Been-Here find the admittedly erroneous label "Indian" offensive, why are they seemingly so cool with it when it's linked to the noble enterprise of gambling? Sorry -- that appears to be three questions.
Now come on, folks, let's start connecting the dots here. Governor Ahnuld is right when he says there has to be a way for California to get a piece of this action. I mean, something's not right here. The feds come along with this bright idea that the way for our indigenous-population-by-whatever-name to rise out of poverty is to let them become the officially-sanctioned gambling barons of America, fleecing the rest of us out of our cash the way we used to fleece them out of their land. OK, fair is fair; if we're feeble enough to want to throw away our money in some glitzy casino instead of flushing it down the commode in the comfort of our own homes, why not?
But let's say the plan was less than perfect. Now we have these garish vacuum cleaners for your savings account sprouting up everywhere like Starbucks on steroids, thanks to the government's generous interpretation of the sovereignty of tribal lands, which means they get out of complying with all manner of state-level planning, zoning, environmental, and most of all, tax laws. No wonder they have enough extra cash to throw millions at a time in the general direction of any candidate who will leave them alone. Maybe it's just me, but I'm not sure that this degree of aboriginal self-sufficiency is what Congress had in mind; perhaps creating a pool of big-money campaign contributors was just a coincidental benefit. It's sometimes hard to tell whether the folks in Washington are fully conscious or are just winging it.
But to the point: We need money desperately, and the ever-proliferating tribes are raking it in hand over fist. Now, despite Ahnuld's brave words during the campaign, we may have considerable trouble getting our hands on the profits given the feds' protective attitude. So if we can't steal it from them, why not steal it from their customers? Let's compete; let's go into the government gambling business! We already have a state lottery that for years now has been enabling the Legislature to chisel the public schools, so we're well past that old moral barrier.
So let's just start building casinos! For crying out loud, they're obvious money machines! Just look east; if it weren't for gambling, once the Comstock Lode ran out Nevada would have gone back to being a territory. And wouldn't you like to know as you watch your kids' college fund slowly evaporate at the temporarily-unlucky roulette wheel that you're helping bail California out of it's crushing budget deficit? You can't get that kind of warm fuzzy feeling going broke at an Indian casino, so let's have a little state patriotism here: write, phone, e-mail or just go visit our chief executive action figure and tell him we need a crash program to construct and operate a string of public gambling palaces. And tell him to hurry, before all the good freeway exits are taken.
>> Is it pure coincidence that for the last few years whenever assemblages of Native Americans suddenly discover that they're a tribe, often of which no one including themselves had ever heard until the feds dangled the words "gaming profits" in front of them, they also suddenly discover that the sacred native ancestral lands they just realized they had are remarkably handy to a freeway exit? <<
It's not a pure coincidence because the dual premises of this statement are false. One, "assemblages of Native Americans" aren't suddenly discovering they're tribes. Most tribes are trying to reconstitute themselves after being terminated, literally or figuratively, by the government.
Two, they aren't suddenly discovering "sacred" native ancestral lands. Many tribes, especially in California, were nomadic and roamed over regions. They may consider any part of those areas "ancestral lands."
Indians generally revere their land, but they don't consider every inch of it sacred. Only certain religious or spiritual sites are sacred to them. They're demanding the return of their ancestral lands because these lands were stolen from them, not because they're all sacred.
>> OK, two questions: Why is it always politically correct to say "Native Americans" in order to rectify Christopher Columbus' insulting misnomer, except when using the term "Indian gaming"? If the People-Who-Have-Always-Been-Here find the admittedly erroneous label "Indian" offensive, why are they seemingly so cool with it when it's linked to the noble enterprise of gambling? <<
Another statement with a false premise. Indians use the terms "Native Americans" and "Indians" interchangeably. You can find the word "Indian" in the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the American Indian Movement, the National Congress of American Indians, and the Indian Country Today newspaper, as well as thousands of other institutions.
That Mitchell doesn't know this shows his profound ignorance of Indian affairs. He shouldn't have attempted this column if he was going to parade his stupidity. First learn what Indians call themselves, chum. Then you can assay an opinion on a more complex subject.
The essential facts about Indians today
The facts about Indian gaming
. . .
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