Wheel of Misfortune
The investigative article by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele on Indian gaming [SPECIAL REPORT, Dec. 16] portrayed "evil" white men getting rich from Indian casinos while the poor Native Americans still live in poverty. As Indians, we already know this. We put up with it, but why? Because $3 million for a tribe after the backer and the state get their cuts is better than begging from Uncle Sam. Sometimes you have to make a deal with the devil to improve your situation. Indian people are not stupid. We know we're being used and ripped off, but the money the tribe gets is better than none at all. DONNA DELGADILLO Lawrenceville, Ga.
There is a basic problem with the idea of allowing Indians to create sovereign nations. It is bad public policy to give them the rights of both U.S. citizens and their individual tribes. Creating sovereign nations within the U.S. is a recipe for disaster; it just won't work. We need to get over our guilt from past injustices and strive to treat all people equally, using one set of rules. ROBERT KREITLER Easton, Conn.
Not all Indian casinos deserve a bad rap. I'd like to point out the good that the casinos of Minnesota's Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwa have done. Prior to our casinos, we had nothing. There was no source of clean water, we had tar-paper shacks for housing, and there were only dirt roads. Today, 14 years after passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and the building of the Mille Lacs' casinos, we have all the amenities of a good community. We have safe drinking water, modern housing, good roads and, best of all, jobs for our people and also for members of surrounding communities. We employ more than 3,500 people, most of whom had few options before our casinos existed. Despite the bad news in your report, in the Mille Lacs Band's case, there is another side to the story. TAMMY MILLER Onamia, Minn.
Those of us who live near Indian casinos are immensely thankful for the honest and thorough job done by reporters Barlett and Steele. They exposed the facts and figures behind an outrageous scam: gambling tycoons are using a few tribes as poster children for casinos while most Indians remain as impoverished as ever. It is a national disgrace, and it's time for a change. WILL BAKER Guinda, Calif.
>> Although many tribal casinos have had a positive effect on nearby communities, a number of our readers found more to complain about than praise. "At the end of a two-lane county highway, we've got a casino that draws thousands of customers to our small farming valley," wrote a Californian. "As a result, the fatality rate for auto accidents is one of the state's highest." A Connecticut reader declared, "Life has changed for those living in the shadow of casinos--and not for the better. We have more traffic, more crime and higher drunk-driving rates." Said a fellow Nutmeg Stater: "We cannot vote in tribal elections or even attend tribal meetings, yet decisions made at them alter the entire region. A gambling economy has been forced upon us."
Size Could Matter