Another Stereotype of the Month entry:
By David Yeagley
American Indian sovereignty is on the rocks in California. The decisions Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is making about Indians and casinos will forever effect the future Indian status in the United States. If tribes are required to pay taxes, or agree to "share profits," then tribes are no longer sovereign, but business partners.
Schwarzenegger is compelled to negotiate with the tribes. In July 2003, Standard & Poor rated the state's credit as "two points above junk status." The $38 billion budget deficit cost Gray Davis his job as governor. Schwarzenegger sees the Indian casinos as part of the solution.
California Indian tribes with casinos are bringing in over $5 billion annually (2003), and have become the largest contributors to California political campaigns. But the issue at this point seems outside Republican or Democratic party principles. Socialists of course will support the capitalist casino enterprise, rather than see budget cuts. Conservatives simply want to see the bills paid. Both sides see Indian casinos as critically important.
The most important issue to Indians however should not be casino income, but sovereignty.
Sovereignty is that peculiar little left-over notion from the 19th century Indian wars, unknown to most California "tribes." Sovereignty is a costly privilege won by bravery and blood. It is the Indian "nation" status. Sovereignty was manifested when any Indian tribe made an agreement or treaty with any other tribe, state, territory, or federal government. Sovereignty means making your own decisions as a people. It means autonomy and freedom to be what you are. It means everything to Indians. It's a mythical archetype, more than a legal reality.
Casinos have unfortunately made sovereignty an explicitly economic issue. Never mind an Indian tribe's inability to sustain itself through production, trade, and economy; never mind the tribes inability to defend itself with its own military force; never mind the boundaries of the reservations which are passed into and out of freely, without passport. No, the definition of sovereignty today rests wholly on taxation.
And casino dollars are quickly destroying the Indian status of being sovereign. If Schwarzenegger's Indians are required to pay taxes or to share income, then, however much profit they do make, they have forfeited sovereignty. They have bought federal recognition for the price of paying state taxes. The IRS is waiting like a vulture over Indian country.
But the federal government is keeping the issue at the state level for now, handing out federal recognition like candy so the states can acquire more income through more Indian casinos. But the federal government is thereby encouraging Indians to forfeit sovereignty for money, and also endorsing the international crime syndicate behind the casino business.
California Proposition 70 is a case study. The California Indian Nations Gaming Association said on July 16, 2004 it was endorsing Proposition 70, which would allow tribes to operate an unlimited number of slot machines, as well as games currently banned in California such as roulette and craps. In return, casinos would be required to pay about 8.8 percent of their net gambling income to the state.
Schwarzenegger is against the proposition, denouncing it as misleading. He instead has been negotiating with individual tribes to form compacts between the tribes and the state of California. But Proposition 70 would destroy those efforts, and give Indians a 99 year monopoly on gaming, without paying "fair share" taxes on the revenue.
The key word is revenue. The plain fact is, non-Indian, syndicated casino management companies operate Indian casinos normally without oversight, and often keep nearly half the revenue or more.
So, if a tribe nets $1 million, and the management takes its cut, the state takes it's 8.8 percent of whatever the management leaves the Indians. It is a fluid figure. Even Schwarzenegger's figured income from the tribes is only a very rough estimate. And yet everyone is banking on the white man's gambling vice as though it's as sure as the sunrise.
In the meantime, newly reconstructed California Indian "tribes" are deconstructing the word "Indian" through the political, manipulative issue of federal recognition—the magic status whereupon the tribal leaders have sovereignty and immunity from taxes and yet agree to pay the state.
Tribes are popping up all over California, and new "federations" of tribes end up with new leadership. Suddenly, originally enrolled members are dis-enrolled if they present any resistance to the new order of the mob and its newly hired Indians.
Not only do California casino tribes forfeit sovereignty; they are also rewarded with tyrrany.
David Yeagley, a member of the Comanche tribe, teaches at Oklahoma State University.
Just what we need: David Yeagley explaining sovereignty to the rest of us. Okay, let's see how far he goes astray this time:
>> Socialists of course will support the capitalist casino enterprise, rather than see budget cuts. <<
By "socialists," I presume Yeagley means liberals. He's proved in the past that he can't tell them apart.
Actually, liberals who support capitalist casinos are capitalists, not socialists. Their support is proof of that fact.
Almost all Americans, including liberals, believe in capitalism as our predominant economic faith. The only difference between conservatives and liberals is whether this capitalism should be regulated or unregulated. Conservatives favor "unregulated" because they believe in greed. Liberals favor "regulated" because they believe in fair play.
>> The most important issue to Indians however should not be casino income, but sovereignty. <<
Seeing Yeagley the Indian apple lecturing other Indians is a hoot. Actually, most Indian leaders understand that sovereignty is the most important issue they face. And since the majority of tribes don't operate casinos, it's fair to say Indians consider sovereignty more important than gaming overall.
>> Sovereignty is a costly privilege won by bravery and blood. <<
Again, it's funny to see Yeagley jump on the sovereignty bandwagon. If you read his past columns, you'll see he's taken anti-sovereignty positions several times.
>> Never mind an Indian tribe's inability to sustain itself through production, trade, and economy <<
But many tribes don't engage in gaming. They sustain themselves by other means.
>> No, the definition of sovereignty today rests wholly on taxation. <<
Wrong. Tribes control much of the environmental and legal landscape within their borders. Sovereignty rests partly on the power of taxation, not wholly.
>> If Schwarzenegger's Indians are required to pay taxes or to share income, then, however much profit they do make, they have forfeited sovereignty. <<
Yeagley has a point here—a point California's Indian leaders have been making at least since Propositions 5 and 1A passed. Welcome to the club, Yeagley.
>> They have bought federal recognition for the price of paying state taxes. <<
Wrong again. California's tribes have "bought" little or no recognition. Almost all of them existed long before the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act passed in 1987.
Apparently Yeagley is confusing the recent recognition of tribes in Connecticut with the recent "fair share" campaign for governor in California. Alas, the two events are unrelated.
Clearly Yeagley doesn't know anything about Indian gaming firsthand. He's regurgitating opinions he's read in the news.
>> The IRS is waiting like a vulture over Indian country. <<
The IRS doesn't collect state taxes, doofus.
>> But the federal government is keeping the issue at the state level for now, handing out federal recognition like candy so the states can acquire more income through more Indian casinos. <<
The US government is not "handing out federal recognition like candy." Yeagley can't support this claim by listing the recognized tribes because only a handful of tribes has gained recognition recently. People who make this claim prove their ignorance of recognition issues.
See NY Times: Most Would-Be Tribes Have Emerged Since 1988 for more on the subject.
Furthermore, why would the feds hand out recognition to help states raise income? The usual conservative cry is that the feds force mandates on the states without providing the money to pay for them. It's nice that the right-wing Yeagley thinks the feds are looking out for the states' well-being, but it just ain't so. Not in this case, anyway.
>> But the federal government is thereby encouraging Indians to forfeit sovereignty for money, and also endorsing the international crime syndicate behind the casino business. <<
What "international crime syndicate"? Does Yeagley mean the Mafia? It's bad enough that he claims the nation's organized crime is behind Indian casinos. Now the world's organized crime, whoever or whatever that is, has taken over?
>> The plain fact is, non-Indian, syndicated casino management companies operate Indian casinos normally without oversight, and often keep nearly half the revenue or more. <<
When Yeagley says something is "plain fact," usually it's neither plain nor a fact. Fact is, Indian gaming is well regulated. And management companies can keep a maximum of 40% of the revenue—not more than half—by law.
California tribes are "newly reconstructed"?
>> In the meantime, newly reconstructed California Indian "tribes" are deconstructing the word "Indian" through the political, manipulative issue of federal recognition <<
Which newly reconstructed tribes are those? Again, Yeagley doesn't say because he can't say. Someone told him California's tribes are, uh, gaming the system somehow and he's regurgitating the claim.
>> Tribes are popping up all over California, and new "federations" of tribes end up with new leadership. <<
No, they're not. Perhaps Yeagley means tribes are becoming visible by making land claims and proposing casinos. But these are separate issues. The tribes themselves have existed in their current form for decades or more.
As for "federations" of tribes, I have no idea what Yeagley is talking about. Neither does he, probably. If he's referring to CNIGA, it's a trade organization, not a federation. It has no governmental powers; it advises, educates, and lobbies only.
>> Suddenly, originally enrolled members are dis-enrolled if they present any resistance to the new order of the mob and its newly hired Indians. <<
Wow, another incredible claim. Not only is the "international crime syndicate" controlling Indian casinos, it's disenrolling Indians who don't agree to the "new order." And what is Yeagley's proof of this? It's nonexistent as far as I can tell.
Yeagley's reference to "originally enrolled" members is another attempt at misdirection. Actually, most "originally enrolled" members are dead, since the enrollment process began a century or two ago (depending on the tribe). Almost all members today are descendants of the original members.
What Yeagley probably means is longtime members. But he's still wrong. Those who do the disenrolling are as likely to be long-time members as the ones they disenroll.
Unfortunately for Yeagley (and his readers), disenrollment is a complex issue. Some tribes may be disenrolling members for economic reasons, but there's little or no proof of that. Tribes traditionally keep their enrollment issues private so outsiders like Yeagley won't misreport them.
So for Yeagley to claim he knows why disenrollment is happening, and to further claim "the mob" is directing it, is simply asinine. He doesn't know jack about either subject.
Note the subtext of Yeagley's claims. He talks big about sovereignty...but he's denigrated every California tribe that's pursuing gaming and standing up for sovereignty. If Yeagley recognizes a single California tribe as genuine and uncorrupted, he's yet to identify it.
Look at the result. It doesn't matter how adamantly California's Indian leaders have championed sovereignty and other Indian rights. Yeagley proclaims himself the only true defender of the Indian "faith." Several hundred thousand California Indians are frauds, tools of organized crime, while he's the real thing.
In other words, trust in Yeagley, and give all your money to him. Because clearly he's trying to profit by taking a stance as a 21st-century Ishi (the last "pure" Indian). By supporting attacks on Indians, he endears himself to conservatives, who reward him for his articles and lectures. Can you say "conflict of interest"?
>> Not only do California casino tribes forfeit sovereignty; they are also rewarded with tyrrany. <<
What tyranny...the mob again? Gov. Schwarzenegger? Their own elected councils?
In addition, note that the know-nothing spelled "tyranny" wrong. What a buffoon.
Yeagley the Indian apple
The facts about tribal sovereignty
The facts about Indian gaming
. . .
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