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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

Article Published: Friday, December 26, 2003 -- 11:48:28 AM PST

Native Americans' political clout may not be lasting

The final straw for the tribes, though, may have been the outcome of a federal lawsuit they expected would cement their status as quasi-sovereign "nations.' That case involved a battle between rural Inyo County and the Paiute-Shoshone tribe which runs a casino near Bishop, south of Mammoth Mountain. The Paiutes claimed county officials violated their sovereignty when they swore out a search warrant and seized casino employee records as part of a welfare fraud investigation.

The Paiutes had won a round in this battle when the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled not merely that the county violated the Indians' rights, but that the sheriff and other officials were personally liable for millions of dollars in damages.

Now some tribes feel their special status may be in jeopardy because the U.S. Supreme Court sent the case back to the trial court level with an instruction that a new trial be held. Neither side in that case won a clear victory, but the tribes need almost absolute sovereignty on their land in order to keep flouting state tax, welfare and environmental laws, as some casinos regularly do. It's beginning to look like the idea that these are really separate nations may soon be exposed as an archaic fiction.

Thomas Elias is a freelance writer and author.

Rob's comment
The problem here is the phrase "archaic fiction." One wonders if Elias considers any other constitutional provisions "archaic." The 3rd Amendment's ban on sequestering troops in people's homes, perhaps?

Whatever. Elias and other Americans don't get to choose which parts of the Constitution they consider valid. They're all valid unless and until we amend them.

Related links
The facts about tribal sovereignty
The facts about Indian gaming

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