Another Stereotype of the Month entry:
Indian 'racino' backed, but racism surfaces
By Mal Leary, Capitol News Service
Thursday, March 29, 2007 — Bangor Daily News
AUGUSTA — In a 12-1 vote the Legislature's Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee on Wednesday supported a proposal to allow the Passamaquoddy Tribe to build and operate a racino and commercial racetrack in Washington Country.
But the panel's deliberations — which included charges by one member that unnamed legislators had made racist comments about American Indians in Maine — may foreshadow an ugly debate by the full Legislature.
"This is one step in a long process, but I am very pleased and the tribe is very pleased and the people of Washington County are pleased," Rep. Donald Soctomah, the Passamaquoddy representative to the Legislature, said of the committee's vote. "This gives us hope that this may now become a reality."
Sen. Kevin Raye, R-Perry, agreed with Soctomah. He said there is strong support for the legislation, which is a citizen-initiated bill that lawmakers can either pass or allow to be voted on in a statewide referendum. Raye is "cautiously optimistic" there is enough support to pass the bill without the need for a referendum.
"I think we are seeing some movement from some senators that were not with us in the past but are willing to take a fresh look at it," he said.
During the panel's discussion, Rep. Gary Moore, R-Standish, charged that some lawmakers have made racist comments — such as "Indians are lazy and want a free ride" — in expressing their opposition to the measure. Moore said he deplored such comments.
"I don't mean offense to anyone here," he said, "but there were and there are nasty, racial overtones."
Moore said he has heard comments in the State House referring to American Indians as "welfare warriors" and "drunks and addicts" who want to "gamble their lives away." He said he has been disgusted by those comments as well as by e-mails he has received stating "the Lord is opposed" to the legislation.
Indians as welfare recipients
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