The summer issue of Indigenous Policy is now posted on the web and can be accessed either at: http://indigenouspolicy.org/ipjblog/category/Vol-XXI-No-2-%28Summer-2010%29.aspx
IPJ is a refereed journal that welcomes submissions of articles, commentary, news, media notes and announcements in some way relating to American Indian or international Indigenous policy issues, broadly defined. Please send article submissions electronically attached to e-mail to Phil Bellfy :firstname.lastname@example.org, who will send them out for review.All non-article submissions (including Research Notes, which usually are non refereed articles) go via e-mail to Steve Sachs: email@example.com. Submission guidelines are at: http://www.indigenouspolicy.org/ipjblog/page/Submission-Guidelines.aspx.
Walk in beauty.
Stephen M. Sachs, Senior Editor, IPJ.
Tribal casinos improve political strength and quality of life for some Native people, but most still live in crushing poverty
Barbara Wells, guardian.co.uk,
Monday 9 August 2010 15.00 BST
Contrary to what many Americans believe, most Native people are living in desperate conditions. Despite being given "consent" to operate casinos on their own sovereign lands, the vast majority of tribes live in a poverty that many Americans would never dream existed in their own back yards. High-stakes gambling is only allowed in specific and rather infamous locations such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City where wealth is ubiquitous so, naturally, many think tribes are rich because they've been given "permission" to operate casinos. Yes? Well, no.
True, tribes can open gaming facilities – pursuant to congressional oversight granted in the Indian gaming regulatory act (IGRA). The act was passed in 1988 as a response to a supreme court ruling on a suit brought by the state of California, which was asserting jurisdiction over tribal gaming on reservations within its boundaries because of its Public Law-280 status, a federal statute passed in 1953, which transferred civil and criminal jurisdiction to five mandatory states. PL-280 was a repudiation of the federal government's historic "special relationship" with the tribes.
Initially, this relationship had fairly distinct boundaries in the immediate wake of the first Indian cases brought before the supreme court. These cases were an attempt by chief justice John Marshall to affirm the tribes' status as sovereigns. After all, the "discoverers" signed treaties with the "discovered," and the Native tribes were mentioned in the constitution: the federal government reserved the right "to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes".
Marshall was merely stating the obvious: the tribes had a government-to-government relationship with the US. However, that sovereignty had strict limitations: tribes were quasi-sovereigns, in the sense that they were in a state of pupilage. Their relation to the US resembles that of a ward to his guardian.
These first Indian cases were decided at a time when the union was nascent. Newly admitted states, Georgia in particular, were becoming increasingly hostile to tribal presence while mounting European immigration fuelled a torrential land grab, with "savage" Indians occupying precious, coveted space.
Aware of the growing recalcitrance in states such as Georgia, Justice Marshall made a declaration that was meant to forever halt state encroachment on Indian reservations: "The Cherokee Nation, then, is a distinct community, occupying its own territory, with boundaries accurately described, in which the laws of Georgia can have no force." Encompassed in that authority was a responsibility to protect the Indians' right to simply "be".
Thus the trust responsibility was born, best described as one in which the federal government is charged with acting as trustee for the tribes. It forms the bedrock of American Indian law and policy, and is a responsibility owed in exchange for all that was given: land. The US government promised to provide for the health and welfare of the tribes, in exchange for what it needed to become a nation. But broken promises, one after another, have been the nature of US federal government-tribal relations.
Since the IGRA, tribal gaming on some reservations has flourished where tribes have been lucky enough to be located near densely populated areas. Although the agreement gave the tribes an allowance to operate casinos, it also created guidelines as to how some of the income must be spent. In a sense, it was both an affirmation of tribal sovereignty and an erosion of it.
Indian casinos have been crucial to improving the quality of life for some tribes, supplying not only employment for tribal members and non-Indians, but the seed money for other tribal business ventures. Additionally, tribes with successful gaming ventures now have increased political strength and less hostile relationships with their surrounding non-Indian communities.
In the state of Washington, where I reside, one tribe provides an excellent example of the opportunities casinos can create. The Muckleshoot tribe opened its casino in 1995; it provides employment for both tribal members but also non-Indians from the surrounding communities (roughly 70%). With casino revenue providing seed money, the tribe now either owns or has invested in businesses wholly unrelated to gaming. It also has a beautiful medical facility that provides medical and dental care for all Muckleshoots and their family members. Additionally, the tribe has a policy of building homes for its elders.
In a sense, it has become self-sufficient enough to provide for its own health and welfare. It has gone beyond looking out for its own as well. Last year, it gave over $4m (£2.5m) to more than 200 Washington state schools, churches and charities through the Muckleshoot Charity Fund. Its dedication to the future of its members and its perseverance in the face of the most daunting of challenges deserves nothing but the utmost respect.
The Muckleshoot Tribe is a success story. But, it is the exception – many tribes still lack access to even the most basic of human necessities. Some haven't the infrastructure to provide running water, let alone business opportunities. The federal government continues to breach its trust responsibility, evidenced by staggering statistics: Native Americans have the highest rates of poverty, unemployment and disease of any ethnic group in America. Upwards of 70,000 Navajos have no running water. Many must travel several miles to wells and are forced to haul water back to their homes for family and livestock, while neighbouring non-Indian communities spring up in the desert like oases, so proud are they of their green lawns and swimming pools.
Most Americans are labouring under the mistaken notion that Indian tribes are wealthy because they've been "given" a special privilege to operate casinos. The truth is far different – only a small minority of tribes have truly successful reservation economies. Since the advent of tribal gaming, conditions on most reservations have remained the same. The small number of tribes reaping the benefits of gaming overshadow the majority of tribes that can't, and don't.
Shawn D. Dorris, Lead Associate Tribal TANF Program Analyst
California Department of Social Services
Tribal TANF Unit
(916) 654-1401 FAX
DURANT, Okla. – The call went out about eight months ago. The Cherokee Nation began contacting other tribes to pitch the idea of an award to honor Native American leadership and excellence. Not only should there be an award, but a gala event to honor award nominees. Full story at: http://tinyurl.com/29ahdd6
A measure designed to ease stubbornly high rates of violent crime, including rape and sexual assault, within Indian reservations will be signed into law by President Obama. Full story at: http://tinyurl.com/28vlp4f
From: Lou Moerner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: July 1, 2010 9:13:09 AM PDT
Subject: NCIDC gets honored on Keep It Sacred
Just wanted to share that our Community Wellness and Tobacco Programs youth intern, Misty Lawson, got her tobacco movie project listed on the front page of the Keep It Sacred national website. Congratulations to MIsty for her hard work! http://keepitsacred.org/network/
Northern California Indian Development Council
Community Wellness & Tobacco Education Program Director
241 F Street
Eureka, CA 95501
(707) 445-8451 ext. 27
(707) 445-8479 fax
Tolowa cemetery raided
Last week, in a sacred Tolowa Dee-Ni’ site wedged between the farmlands of Fort Dick and the Pacific Ocean, 27-year-old Guylish Bommelyn buried an ancestor he’d never met. Full story at: