Attention- Cheyenne-Arapaho People In Oklahoma!
Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2004 07:15:05 EST
State-Tribal Gaming Compact.
Watonga Republican – Watonga, Oklahoma
Letter to the Editor,
I submit this letter in the hope that my Cheyenne-Arapaho people will read and understand the importance of what could happen to our tribe if we enter into a state-tribal gaming compact.
The compact is an overwhelming 108 pages, most of which is about horse racing schedules and policies. However, along the way through some tedious reading at well spaced intervals you will find paragraphs that should be of great concern to all Indians.
First, this compact requires only four tribes to enter into a state-tribal compact to seek approval by the secretary of the interior and notice of approval published in the Federal Registry. Okla. Horse Racing Commission would then have the authority to license us to operate state-defined Class II gaming machines in our own casinos.
A little further into the compact is a part that authorizes Okla. Horse Racing Commission to establish rules to regulate and enforce the provisions of the compact. It goes on to say that games and gaming authorized by this compact conducted by an Indian tribe shall be conducted solely pursuant to the requirements of the compact.
On down the line the compact authorizes the state to establish a state compliance agency "SCA," for which the tribe must pay $50,000 startup cost and an additional $35,000 for the annual oversight assessment, which shall be determined and paid in advance of the first fiscal year.
Finally, almost hidden in obscurity of this enormous document at the bottom of page 99 is a simple sentence that says, "Each of the parties hereto waives immunity and consents to suit therein for such limited purposes." As easy as that, our tribal Sovereignty is gone.
Although insulting, this doesn't surprise me. Remember, HB 553 was pushed through by Gov. Brad Henry who a good number of Indians voted for. We must remember what our grandfathers told us about these men who always want what we have and will make promises and always have a piece of paper that we should sign for our own good. The word "forked tongue" comes to mind.
This is what the governor and his friends call "Leveling the Playing Field." I fail to see anything level or fair about multi-millionaires racing hundred thousand dollar horses and crying for bigger profits while an astounding number of Indians in Oklahoma still live below the national poverty level, and we still have the highest dropout rate and the highest unemployment rate in the whole country. Yet, the good governor and his friends want all their money and part of ours the revenues. We need to address these problems and to try to create a better future for our children.
What really infuriates me, though, is that Lucky Star Casino chartered a bus and transported their employees to the state capitol to lobby for passage of HB 553, thereby using our own young people against our best interest. It's not even as if they were exercising their First Amendment rights because they were being paid to do this by their employer.
Whether this was directed by Mr. Druck or if it was initiated by Lucky Star managers Brian Foster and Thomas Blackowl, it was wrong. Since before Lucky Star Casino became a reality up until the present, Mr. Druck has always maintained that he would protect our "tribal sovereignty." I don't think that this was done with the idea of protecting our "sovereignty" in mind.
In closing, I want to tell you, my people, "That we don't have to compact with the state," the ones that call themselves "civilized will do that." In my opinion, it's not in our best interest to pay the state or the horse racing commission to let us have state defined Class II gaming and pay them to have oversight and regulatory authority over our own casinos on our own lands.
I don't believe that an issue of this magnitude with important long-term implications should be decided by the tribal gaming commissioners or even the business committee. This affects all of us - the whole tribes. I say the whole tribes should decide with a referendum vote by the people.
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