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Don't See Gaming as Another Mother Lode

November 30, 2003

In suggesting tribes do not contribute enough to California coffers, Brett Fromson ("California Must Hedge Its Bet," Commentary, Nov. 25) ignores federal law and the intent of Congress in enacting the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. He also ignores the fact that tribes pay hundreds of millions of dollars a year to state and local governments to help alleviate the impact of tribal casinos on Indian lands. The regulatory act was intended to help Indian nations develop strong tribal governments and build tribal economies. It was not enacted to bail states out of fiscal calamities that were not created by Native Americans.

Frank Ducheneaux, former counsel to the U.S. Committee on the Interior and Insular Affairs and co-author of the act, said in a speech in Sacramento earlier this month that state governments had "hijacked" tribal sovereignty in their efforts to extract revenue from gaming on Indian lands.

Fromson also suggests that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger look to Connecticut for guidance, noting that the state extracts 25% of slot revenues from the tribal gaming operations. He fails to note that Connecticut tribes have tribal-state compacts that allow them to operate casinos in perpetuity. California tribes have 20-year compacts.

Brenda Soulliere

Chairwoman, California

Nations Indian Gaming

Assn., Sacramento

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In his misguided attempt to shift responsibility for the state's financial mess to Indian gaming, Fromson implies that Native Americans owe us something. Let's have a brief refresher course: In the year 1845, there were over 150,000 Native Americans living in California (already reduced from 300,000 about 70 years earlier). In just a 20-year period, the Native Americans were raped, slaughtered and enslaved and had their lands plundered and expropriated by the mad dash of (mostly) white Anglos from the East Coast seeking riches in the California Mother Lode. This invasion reduced the native population to just a few thousand.

Interesting that the original inhabitants of what is now California, who gave up their lives, their land and their way of life, and whose entire culture was destroyed, are, according to the likes of Fromson, supposed to dig deep and give some more.

Carter C. Bravmann

Los Angeles

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