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Casinos, Tribes' Sovereignty

August 02, 2003

Re "Many Indians Exempt From State Taxes, Fees," July 25: Since childhood, the continuation of both Indian reservations and the legal concept of "tribal sovereignty" in the United States has appalled me. As with slavery, the holocausts and genocides, the religious intifadas, crusades, inquisitions and witch hunts and the ethnic internments and "cleansings," this system too seeks to differentiate mankind to achieve inequality for the purposes of exploitation or dominion. This failure to fully and equally integrate all Americans into the whole of society is a corrosive abomination that will continue to poison and corrupt our governmental systems and defy our ongoing attempts to form a more perfect union.

Your article on the effects of Native American sovereignty on California government was excellent in showing how this originally corrupt system has been and will continue to be misused. A federal commission should be established to orchestrate the long-overdue demise of this fatally flawed, duplicitous system. It is time to end the treaties and tribal sovereignty and to distribute the reservation lands among each of the individual legal owners who, henceforth, would be subject only to federal, state and local laws.

Robert M. Beard

Newport Beach

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Casino dollars seem to flow back into the general community, as well as to needy tribes. To whatever extent a "free ride" exists for Native Americans vis-a-vis taxes and fees, it is very much their due after the white man's initial appropriation of their lands and years of broken treaties.

Sunny Kreis

Santa Monica

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The income gained from casinos has given to Native American tribes something that the American government continually tried to make sure they never achieved: a chance for prosperity and opportunity in the United States. After they suffered over 400 broken treaties, slaughters of innocent people, a forced reservation system that only promoted poverty and injustice, degradation, humiliation and cultural annihilation, it is beyond me to think that Native Americans will ever owe any state government or the federal government anything. I applaud their success and resourcefulness. I hope they continue to assert their sovereignty and financial independence.

Dharma T. Hernandez

Simi Valley

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We learn that California Indian tribes generally do not pay sales tax, property tax, vehicle tax, business tax, etc., because they are sovereign nations. However, the tribes are perfectly willing to forgo providing health insurance for their employees so that they qualify for the state-funded Healthy Families program. Indian tribes should be required to pay for health insurance for their workers or pay state income taxes if employees apply for benefits provided by state programs. It appears that they are "sovereign nations" only when it is economically in their best interest.

Ann Hayman Young

Los Angeles

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Maybe the next governor of California can take a lesson from Connecticut on Indian gaming. At the entrance of the Foxwoods Casino it clearly states that 25% of the profit goes to the state.

Bob Launius

Oxnard

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