Tag Archives: Gaming

Donald Trump is Lying, Again

The President tweeted out this morning a call to his fellow Republicans to oppose H.R. 312, the “Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act.”

This is rich. Six Republicans have co-sponsored the bi-partisan bill.

INDIANZ.COM offered a useful summary of the legislation:

The bill was introduced to resolve questions about the tribe’s ability to restore homelands through the land-into-trust process. Congress enacted a similar law in 2014 and did the same in 2018 to clear up doubts that have arisen as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar.

According to the ruling, a tribe can only go through the land-into-trust process if it was “under federal jurisdiction” in 1934. The Mashpee didn’t gain recognition of their status until 2007, well after the cut-off date

But the Bureau of Indian Affairs, during the Obama administration, concluded that Carcieri wasn’t a hindrance to the tribe because its citizens were living on a reservation in 1934. The Trump administration has since reversed course in response to litigation filed by opponents of a planned casino in the city of Taunton, only about 20 miles from an existing casino across the border in Rhode Island.
The reservation, however, remains in trust at this point. The BIA has confirmed that it lacks a mechanism to take a tribe’s land out of trust, something that hasn’t happened since the disastrous termination era.
The Trump administration had proposed regulations that would have provided such a mechanism. Due to tribal opposition, the newly confirmed head of the Department of the Interior has said the BIA won’t move forward with the changes.

Why on earth would the President claim that this legislation is unfair, and does not treat Indians equally? Because, conceivably, the Mashpee Wampanoags could engage in gaming, should they follow the processes spelled out the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Too many people view gaming as an unfair privilege possessed by Native American peoples. They view gaming as one of a number of “special rights” Indians possess that other Americans do not. Trump either wants those who read his tweet to think that Senator Warren is pushing legislation that discriminates against native peoples, or he is lamenting that native peoples have unfair advantages that allow them to compete all-too-successfully with his seedy gaming enterprises. Nobody familiar with Trump’s history will be surprised to learn that the latter option is what fueled his angry tweet.

Native American tribes have something called inherent sovereignty. It is a concept that is described at length in Native America. Because native peoples belong to polities that predated the creation of the United States, under the American constituitonalism they have some of the attributes of sovereign nations. Essentially, Native American tribes can do whatever they want as governments unless they have explicitly lost that right as the result of a treaty or an act of Congress, or because the power in question is somehow inconsistent with their status as “domestic dependent nations.” Gaming, the Supreme Court held in the late 1980s, was a right that native communities retained under their inherent sovereignty, and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which soon followed, limited the tribe’s ability to exercise that right.

The Mashpee Wampanoags want this bill, and their supporters across Indian country agree. You can read the statement tribal chairman Cedric Cromwell here. Donald Trump has trampled upon so many constitutional norms. Let’s call him out for each and every lie.

This Week’s Current Events Roundup

Native America focuses on a number of communities in order to tell the story of Native American people in what became the continental United States.  In the past few days, news stories have appeared connected to the tribes and nations we focus upon in the book that you might want to share with your students.

According to the Newport News Daily Press, the Pamunkeys of Virginia, one of the constituent nations that belonged to the Powhatan Paramount Chiefdom, are looking into the possibility of opening a “destination resort with legal gaming and employing 4000 full-time workers somewhere in eastern Virginia.”  The project, with a proposed budget in the vicinity of $700 million, is still in the planning stages.  The Pamunkeys were not one of the six Virginia tribes to recently receive recognition through long-delayed Congressional legislation–those tribes were barred by the law signed by President Trump for engaging in gaming.  The Pamunkeys, who earned recognition in 2016 through the BIA process created back in 1978, face no such prohibition in gaming.  Sovereignty matters.  It can bring jobs that enliven native communities and provide employment to native and non-native workers.  Meanwhile, the Kiowas have opened this week a new gaming facility in Carnegie, Oklahoma: 117 gaming machines and a cafe.  It’s a relatively small operation, according to a press release, but “the Kiowa Tribe prides itself on its Las Vegas-style guest experience at each location, bringing big entertainment to the local communities.” And in the Cherokee Phoenix, a story appeared on how the Cherokee Nation will break ground on the new Cherokee Casino Tahlequah on 26 March, a sizable development involving gaming and destination shopping.  The Cherokees and Kiowas may be able to take advantage of changes in Oklahoma gaming laws that, if adopted, will permit “casino games that use a ball or dice” in Native American casinos.  The legislation passed the Oklahoma Senate and is headed for the statehouse.  According to its advocates, the legislation will “raise an estimated $22 million for the state in the first year and $45 million in the second year.”  According to the NewsOK website,

Ten percent of a tribe’s winnings from table games are sent back to the state, along with percentages of revenues generated from certain electronic games. From the state’s share, $250,000 goes to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services each year and the rest is split with 12 percent directed toward a fund used for general state appropriations, while 88 percent is earmarked for public education.

The roulette games will increase the amount of money collected by the state from the compacts it negotiates with gaming tribes, in essence a tax on people who are really bad at math.

And if you have been following the news, you likely saw something about the teacher strike in West Virginia, and the poor pay experienced by teachers in Oklahoma.  Chief Bill John Baker of the Cherokee Nation proposed “and the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council approved—a lump sum payment of $5,000 to all certified teachers, effective immediately. Additionally, certified teacher pay will increase by $5,000, effective the beginning of teacher contracts in FY18-19.”  Tribes are using their resources to attract motivated educators to work in their communities.  Well-paid teachers are happy teachers.

On this blog I have written a lot about the entire #MMIWG movement.  The federal government has done little in the United States, so some tribes are acting on their own.  In Minnesota, Tribes United Against Trafficking (TRUST), comprised of representatives from eleven tribes, have established a program “working on training tribal police, casino surveillance staff, and staff at local hotels to recognize instances of sex trafficking and help tribes create a coordinated method of responding to the crime and helping victims.”

I have tried to keep an eye as well on recent attacks on the Indian Child Welfare Act.  The conservative Goldwater Institute has continued its assault on this important piece of legislation, claiming victory in an Ohio case involving a child from the Gila River Indian Community.  You can read the decision here. Graham Lee Brewer published last week an essay explaining why these conservative attacks on the ICWA are so menacing a threat to Native American communities.  Your students can read it here.

For Indigenous affairs in Canada, and the nation’s movements toward “reconciliation,” be sure to check out the CBC project “Beyond 94: Truth and Reconciliation in Canada.”  The website tracks progress on each of the ninety-four “Calls to Action” that resulted from the work of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. So far, only ten of the 94 have been completed.

It has been hard to find good news coming out of Indian country as of late.  The racial fallout from two recent murder trials has shown that native peoples cannot expect justice from juries and judges in Canada.  In the United States, assaults on Native American lands continue, from Standing Rock to Bears Ears.  And as our Clown Prince of Mar-a-Lago continues to blunder his way around the presidency, it is perhaps not surprising that an unprecedented number of Native American people have decided to run for elective office. Even the New York Times, taking a break from its practice of interviewing Trump voters who seem to do little but sit in diners, ran a story on this important development.