National Indian Gaming Assn.'s response to TIME magazine

Hunter Gray hunterbadbear at earthlink.net
Wed Dec 11 08:13:45 MST 2002


       National Indian Gaming Assn.'s response to TIME magazine





http://www.pechanga.net/press_release/Letter%20From%20The%20National%20Indi
      an%20Gaming%20Association%20to%20Time%20Magazine.htm

      December 10, 2002

      Time Magazine
      Time and Life Building
      Rockefeller Center
      New York, NY 10020-1393

      Dear Editor:

      On behalf of the 184 Tribes of the National Indian Gaming Association,
I
      would like to express my disgust with your December 16, 2002 special
      report, "Indian Casinos: Wheel of Misfortune." The story begins with
the
      word "imagine." That is the appropriate beginning for a story twisted
to
      the point of a fairy tale. Your reporters use isolated circumstances
to
      write what amounts to a gossip column.

      Your story is based on the false and offensive premise that
"Washington"
      created Indian gaming as a "cheap way to wean tribes from government
      handouts." Indian gaming is not a federal program. Instead, it is a
one
      tool that Tribes use to generate revenue for their communities. The
      Federal programs that you refer to handouts represent an attempt by
the
      federal government to live up to thousands of treaty obligations
incurred
      when establishing the land base for this Nation. American Indians have
      been victimized by federal policies supporting genocide and
assimilation,
      which took millions of lives and millions of acres of Indian land, and
      caused economic and cultural destruction. Our grandfathers, Pontiac,
      Tecumseh, Crazy Horse, Chief Joseph, Geronimo, and so many others,
fought
      for our rights - especially our right to self government on our own
land.
      The U.S. Constitution, the President, Congress, and the United States
      Supreme Court all recognize Indian Tribes as governments.

      Indian gaming is self-reliance. Through Indian gaming, Tribes have
created
      over 300,000 jobs nationwide. Jobs in Indian Country are precious -
whether
      its 80 jobs on the Pine Ridge reservation, located in the poorest
county in
      the United States, or 3,000 jobs at the Oneida Nation of New York,
outside
      Syracuse. Yet your report completely discounts the value of jobs to
our
      people who have historically suffered shocking unemployment rates,
high
      levels of poverty and lack of economic opportunities on Indian
homelands.

      More than 200 of the roughly 340 Indian Tribes in the lower 48 states
use
      Indian gaming to generate tribal government revenue. That is about 60%
of
      Indian Tribes. So yes, Indian gaming is broadly benefiting Indian
Country.
      Naturally, Indian Tribes that are closer to large markets are
generating
      revenue. Is that a surprise in a market economy? If you are advocating
      "to each according to his need and from each according to his
 ability,"
      Russia tried that and failed. On the same note, we can hardly believe
that
      an organization led by Ted Turner can, without blushing, publish
stories
      suggesting that others should not pursue economic ventures in America.

      Indian Tribes use gaming first and foremost for tribal government
programs,
      community infrastructure, charity, and aid to local governments. Where
      Indian Tribes have suffered the highest teen suicide rates in the
country,
      Indian gaming has built schools, funded colleges scholarships, and
given
      our children hope for a brighter future. The Mille Lacs Band of
Ojibwe,
      for example, built two schools and their high school graduates are now
      fluent in both Ojibwe and English. Where our people suffer epidemic
      problems of diabetes, heart, and liver disease, Indian gaming is
building
      health clinics, dialysis centers, and fitness centers.

      Indian gaming not only works for Indian Country, it works for America.
      Contrary to your story, Tribes are not running roughshod over our
      neighboring communities. Non-Indians hold 75% of the 300,000 jobs
Indian
      gaming has created nationwide. Tribes have brought economic
development to
      historically rural and undeveloped areas. It's a fact that many Indian
      casinos are the largest employers in their areas. In addition, Tribes
have
      numerous service agreements with state and local governments to share
      revenues, contribute emergency service equipment, build roads and
other
      infrastructure, and provide other government services to non-Indian
      community members. For example, the Mohegan Tribe's restaurants serve
      buffalo meat purchased from Plains Indian Tribes while the Agua
Caliente
      Band of Cahuilla Indians purchased fire trucks for Palm Springs. The
      Forest County Potawatomi Tribe funds Milwaukee Indian School and aids
the
      Red Cliff and Mole Lake Bands of Chippewa. Additionally, Tribes donate
$68
      million annually to charitable organizations.

      American Indians are American taxpayers. Indian gaming revenue is 100%
      taxed - the vast majority goes directly for tribal government purposes
      serving as tribal tax revenue, and any remainder that is paid to
tribal
      members is subject to Federal income taxation. In fact, through
employee
      income, payroll, vendor taxes, and revenue sharing agreements, Indian
      gaming generates over $4 billion in annual revenue for the Federal
      Government, over $1 billion for the states, and $50 million for local
      governments. American Indians pay another $4 billion in personal
Federal
      income taxes.

      That the NIGC has yet to discover any major cases of corruption is a
      testament to the upstanding job done by our regulatory personnel. Your
      article continues to perpetuate a myth that Indian gaming is not
regulated.
      This is simply not true. President Bush has just appointed a former
U.S.
      Attorney, former FBI agent, and former state deputy attorney general
to
      staff the National Indian Gaming Commission. In addition to the $164
      million that Indian Tribes dedicate to tribal government regulation
and the
      $40 plus million that tribal governments pay to states for state
      regulation, the NIGC has an $8 million budget. In total, that's over
$212
      million that Indian Tribes spend annually on regulation. This figure
      includes the employment of over 2,800 gaming commissioners and
regulatory
      staff. In addition, Tribes work with the FBI within the Department of
      Justice, FinCEN and the IRS within Treasury, and the BIA within the
      Interior Department. Your suggestion that this regulatory system is
less
      than comprehensive is just plain wrong - as a number of DOJ
investigations
      have found.

      Furthermore, your discussion of management contracts is faulty at
best.
      Whether a Tribe chooses to employ a management company or developer is
an
      exercise of a Tribe's individual sovereignty. Each Tribe has the right
to
      choose what is most beneficial for its own membership and community.
      Whether or not a Tribe chooses a management firm is a tribal decision
and
      the fact remains that Tribes are legal entities with the right to
determine
      their own future as they see fit within the context of the law. Many
      Tribes have never had a management agreement and have operated their
gaming
      enterprises pursuant to their own gaming ordinances, long before the
Indian
      Gaming Regulatory Act was passed.

      In conclusion, as American Indians, we find it highly offensive that
TIME
      published an article belittling tribal self-government and the very
      positive attempts of tribal governments to dispossession for hundreds
of
      years. You do not belittle Israeli or Palestinian efforts toward
      self-determination, but it can not fathom that within the United
States,
      Indian Tribes continue to be vital, self-governing nations working to
build
      a life for our people.

      Ernie Stevens, Jr.
      Chairman
      National Indian Gaming Association



Hunter Gray  [Hunterbear]
www.hunterbear.org
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
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