The various pacts setting up tribal sovereignty were made long before anyone entering into them considered that one day the Indians would be building large casinos and soliciting non-tribal members to come onto “their” land. The folly of “tribal sovereignty” was enacted long before it was considered that tribal members and their employees will routinely commit violent crimes against non-tribal members of the public, but have no legitimate law enforcement agencies to arrest and prosecute the casino employee perpetrators. Or run these casinos with no legitimate regulatory oversight, with most of the Indian “gaming commissions” mere puppets for the casinos themselves, sometimes using the same people in conflicting positions. These Indian “gaming commissions” almost make the Nevada Gaming Control Board look as if it legitimately acts to protect the public from casino wrongdoing.
In the Soboba case, the Riverside County Sheriff essentially says the “reservation” is too dangerous for non-tribal members to enter. Deputies are turned away by these puffy-chested, bloated, self-important tribal “leaders.” How much more ridiculous can it get?
I realize there are much bigger issues facing our country, but the stupidity of tribal sovereignty gets worse and worse as the Indian casinos take more advantage of the public with virtually no regulation over their conduct. Other tribal business entities have hidden behind sovereignty as well. Being forced to use the tribal kangaroo courts to settle civil disputes prevents many legitimate businesses from wanting to do business with the Indians, to the detriment of the tribes as well as the businesses. Why do we stand for this? What can we do at this point?
In a discussion of this issue on BJ21.com Green Chip, my friend Biglad made the following observations: The tribal leaders are both stupid and greedy. They can’t see the forest for the trees. … there are a few exceptions. If they were smart, they would assimilate their business and commercial operations into mainstream America. They have been given an opportunity to improve their communities, but most fail to do so. We should eliminate the sovereign nations around the country. The current reservations should be given the status and borders of a county in the State they are in, and be subject to the same laws as the rest of us. If they do a good job the current tribal leaders will continue in power as elected officials. If they don’t, then they will be voted out like any politician. But alas, that would be the fair and proper thing to do. Given the pathetic bunch we presently have running our country, I doubt if anyone has the intestinal fortitude to take on the challenge of ending this favoritism towards Indians and the special privileges they have been handed. Largely they have squandered their opportunity. It is time for them to become productive members of the mainstream United States, not be part of a silly “sovereign nation.”
Changing the status of the reservations to counties within the states they’re located in (parishes in Louisiana) makes sense and is a good step. Sadly, I doubt if many of our politicians have the courage to get the system moving towards eliminating the present inequities and special, favored treatment given to this small minority of people. Without some action, Indian casino thugs like the creeps at Fantasy Springs will continue to commit crimes against patrons with impunity, and the thugs in charge of Soboba will continue to resist legitimate law enforcement. These things are to the detriment of all of us, Indians and non-Indians alike.
Riverside County sheriff calls for closure of Soboba tribe’s casino
RIVERSIDE, CA – Riverside County Sheriff Stanley Sniff on Tuesday called on federal authorities to shut down the Soboba Casino, saying that the tribal council had ordered security officers to block or delay his deputies from entering the troubled reservation, where five members have been shot to death during confrontations with his department.
… Soboba tribal chairman vows to stop Riverside County deputies at reservation gate
RIVERSIDE, CA – Despite the threat of arrest and possible closure of their casino, leaders of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians said Wednesday that they would continue stopping law enforcement officers at the gates of their reservation unless they were responding to an emergency.
AMERICAN INDIAN SOVEREIGNTY: NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON’T, by Peter d’Errico, Legal Studies Department, University of Massachusetts/Amherst
No doubt the Indian tribes were at one time sovereign and even now the tribes are sometimes described as being sovereign. The blunt fact, however, is that an Indian tribe is sovereign to the extent that the United States permits it to be sovereign — neither more nor less. [364 F.Supp. at 194.]
This book provides the clearest and most complete account to date of the laws and politics of Indian gaming. Steven Light and Kathryn Rand explain how it has become one of today’s most politically charged phenomena: at stake are a host of competing legal rights and political interests for tribal, state, and federal governments. As Indian gaming grows, policymakers struggle with balancing its economic and social costs and benefits.