Indians And Tribe Gambling Essay, Research Paper
Indian tribes existed as sovereign governments long before European settlers arrived in North America. Treaties signed with European nations and later the United States in exchange for land guaranteed the tribes continued recognition and treatment as sovereign nations. Historically, state governments have been hostile to the concept of recognizing and dealing with tribes as sovereign governments. The United States negotiated numerous treaties which they continuously violated in pursuit of the Indians’ lands and assets, and ultimately to impose their will on Indian tribes and people as they seen fit. These actions by the United States reinforce the colonialism theories and the four components of the colonization complex toward indigenous people in the United States. In this project I will expose Colonial practices by the United States toward Native Americans, past and present, the move to assimilate them, and the relationship of those practices to the current condition of the American Indiana.
European colonialism uprooted and almost completely destroyed the North American indigenous population. The land grab and expansion west placed all native Americans into harms way. The establishment of the United States of America would be the defining point for the Native American Indians because this created a government with colonial motivation. According to Aguirre and Turner American Ethnicity, in order to create internal colonies government must actively participate and provide coercive force need to control those being colonized. The first rule of the colonization complex: forced entry into a territory and its population. (Aguirre & Turner p.28) American history easily provides us with the facts and intentions of early American settlers. After the independence from England America turned its attention toward Native Americans who were in the way of expansion. The desire for American settlers to move west only accelerated the entry into Indian Territory. All of America was Indian Territory at one period and the first landings at Jamestown VA. Were the beginnings of the Indian colonization theory.
The alteration or destruction of an indigenous culture and patterns of social organization is Aguirre & Turner second stage of the colonization complex. General George Crook commander of the Indian wars of the pacific north west and commonly known as America best Indian fighter recognized greed as nine tenths of the problem with the Indians. The quest for more land and gold were the driving force behind the destruction of the Native Americans. To justify the actions of killing Indians in the same manner as hunting a deer or a rabbit they had to present the Indians as savages. Instead of attempting to share the land with Indians it was decided to remove them. When Indians tribes refused to be uprooted from their native lands the justification for their destruction was inevitable, from the American governments prospective.
The transition of the domination of the indigenous culture and it patterns of social organization, the third stage of the colonization complex occurs with the forced moves to Indian reservations. The tribes were remove from their native homelands and force into reservations. Completely destroying the Indians custom of living from the land and being in a harmonious balance within nature. When treaties were agreed, such as the Black Hills of Dakota, and the sacred land to the Sioux Indians the United States recognized the Black Hills as part of the Great Sioux Reservation, set aside for exclusive use by the Sioux people. However, after the discovery of gold there in 1874, the United States confiscated the land in 1877. To this day, ownership of the Black Hills remains the subject of a legal dispute between the U.S. government and the Sioux. These practices By the U.S. government complicate the trust and relationship native Americans have toward the official government to this day.
The justification of prejudicial and racist beliefs is the center of the Indian demise. The belief that European culture, religion, manifest destiny and the natural superiority of the white settlers lead to the misunderstanding of the native culture, and the near complete destruction. The racist beliefs that the “white way was the right way” inspired mainly Eastern philanthropists, intellectuals and members of religious groups to argued for the total assimilation of Indians as ordinary Americans and the breakdown of tribal governments, which they saw as hindering the progress of Indian assimilation. As part of this policy, the BIA set up special schools for Indian children. The most famous of these was the Carlisle Indian Training School in Pennsylvania, which forbade the use of native languages and religious practices. In retrospect, the allotment policy was a devastating failure. By the 1920s, Indian reservations and Indian peoples were the most impoverished sector in the nation. (MSNBC News)
In the current political environment, I am not surprised by the recent news stories of tribes giving political donations in order to have their issues heard. Federal lawmakers have enormous power over Indian affairs, and yet most have little understanding and great indifference. Tribes must invest an inordinate amount of their limited resources to ensure that their interests are not carelessly disregarded. What Tribes really need is a consistent federal policy that respects their rights, including the right to engage in the business of gaming, and is not subject to every political breeze that blows in Washington. When this policy is in place, Tribes will be able to get back to the business of rebuilding their broken economies, without fear that the federal government will continually block their efforts. The conditions imposed on Native American’s have forced them into alternative ways to maintain lifestyle on Indian reservations. The establishment of casinos on their tribal ancestral land has been economical for Indian reservations. The caste theories I believe have played a critical role in the Government opposition to the establishment of the facilities for several reasons. The power and big business that gambling brings would be out of the control of the dominant ethnic group, and therefore the reservations would be escaping the lower socioeconomic positions they are confined to. This would constitute a shift in power and possible reverse exploitation. Also the amount of revenue that will be generated from the surrounding communities, and the possible effect it will have on the lives of the surrounding population play a significant role in the opposition to the establishment of reservation casinos. On the other side of the argument there are individuals claiming tribe blood ties only for financial benefit with the support of wealthy corporations. This perspective is examined from different point of view in the article “The Lost Tribe” by Novak and Thompson. Petitions for claims on tribe blood ties to the Golden Hills Paugussett Indians with ancestral roots dating back to the 1600’s Bridgeport Connecticut area are in question by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The 1850 and 1860 census which is used to determine the bloodline, identified the groups ancestors as non-Indians. I question if the census is the only method that should be used to determine tribal blood ties given the state of nature of the American Indian during that period. Many Indians claimed different ethnicity, and only later to returned to identify their true heritage.
The colonization of Native Americans progressed through four stages outlined in Aguirre and Turners colonialism theories the colonization complex. Following the finial stage of the colonization complex was the attempt to assimilate the Indians into mainstream society. Whites were slow to escape the negative stereotypes and economic discrimination that undercut Native Americans, and is responsible for their high poverty rates that keep them tied to government. The establishment of the Indian gaming act of 1988 threatens to free the reservations from the long arm of government, but at the expense of the surrounding white communities. This I believe is at the heart of the Indian gambling issue. I also must acknowledge there are groups who are interested in benefiting themselves and not the Indian reservations with their bogus claims to tribal blood ties. This hurts the image of Native Americans, but I still support the issue if it betters the quality of life for Native Americans living of reservations.
1. Novak, V. and Thompson, M (2000, March 6) The Lost Tribe, 66-68
2. MSNBC TV News with Tom Brokaw(www.msnbc.com/onair/ncb/nightlynews/flee/)
3. Aguirre, Adalberto JR and Jonathan Turner. American Ethnicity the Dynamics and
Consequences of Discrimination 2nd ed.