Editorial: Donald Trump wages war on the Indian gaming industry

Shot him with an arrow and nothing came out but hot air.

Treaties trump Trump attacks on Indian casinos
By Native Sun News Editorial Board

Republican nominee for President, Donald Trump, has been waging war against American Indian Tribes since 1988, ever since their trust status with the U.S. Government allowed them to own and operate casinos.

Except for those he’d probably seen in Hollywood movies, Trump most likely had never even seen a real Indian before and perhaps wasn’t even aware we still existed. But when the Indian Gaming Industry hit the scene in 1989, Trump quickly got educated.

Casinos were already Trump’s forte, the arena from which he’d been amassing his fortune. He was already heavily involved in the operation of his Atlantic City Casinos, Trump Castle, Trump Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal when Indian Gaming was first introduced.

He quickly moved to halt Indian Gaming which he saw as competition to his three Atlantic City casinos, and filed a lawsuit in Federal Court claiming the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 was “unconstitutional and discriminatory.”

However Trump soon found out that Treaties trump even Trump. He lost his fight when he found out that Indians enjoy a “special trust status” with the government.

But the one thing Trump probably doesn’t know is that we, as American Indians, did not write the treaties, we did not want to sign the treaties, and we did not ask the government for this “special trust status.” Government officials came to our ancestors because they coveted our vast land holdings and our unlimited resources. In essence the government promised us the world just so they could get their greedy little hands on the very things we held sacred.

So this “special trust status” we enjoy today as American Indians was the government’s doing and we paid dearly for it with the blood our ancestor’s shed at Wounded Knee and other killing fields across this country and with our land and our resources.

However losing the lawsuit didn’t stop Trump from continuing his attack on the Indian Gaming Industry which in 1993 was topping the $6 billion mark, twice the total of Atlantic City's casinos. The Indian gaming industry in 2015 totaled $29.9 billion dollars and saw a 5 percent increase over 2014 revenues, the largest increase in 10 years.

When the lawsuit didn’t work, Trump then tried to influence the House Native American Affairs subcommittee by implying the Indian Gaming Industry was being overrun by organized crime and said it was “obvious” that the Mafia had infiltrated the industry.

"An Indian chief is going to tell Joey Killer to please get off his reservation? It's unbelievable to me,” Trump told the subcommittee.

He also covertly spent $1 million in advertising trying to portray members of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe in upstate New York as cocaine traffickers and career criminals.

He then tried to collapse the industry through a burdensome tax increase of 34 percent imposed on tribes and their casinos.

When all of that didn’t work he switched to the tactics we’ve all become so familiar with watching him in action during the 2016 presidential race, belittling his opponents and hitting below the belt.

He said of the Mashantucket Pequots, whose Foxwoods casino was the highest grossing casino in the world at the time, "Well, you go up to Connecticut, and you look. They don't look like Indians to me. They don't look like Indians to Indians."

He also stated to shock jock Don Imus in a 1993 interview, “I think I might have more Indian blood than a lot of the so-called Indians that are trying to open up the reservations.”

Last but not least, when all that effort didn’t pan out he tried the old “if you can’t beat em, join em” tactic. He tried to partner with the Seminole Indians of Florida but was shot down by his old opponent, Jeb Bush. As is his usual response when criticized, fire back, he said of Bush when he wouldn’t negotiate the deal, “It's obvious that those so-called Indians have done a major number on his head.”

He did negotiate a deal with the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians but they ended that relationship after just three years. He also offered the Aqua Caliente a deal but they refused to negotiate, knowing his track record.

The next step he took could be disastrous for the Indian Gaming Industry, his run for the Presidency of the United States. If he wins, according to the New York Times he would be responsible for appointing the leadership of the “National Indian Gaming Commission and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the two agencies with control over gaming compacts, land-into-trust applications and other regulations.”

Indian Country needs to be aware of Trump and his tactics and vote accordingly.

For more news and opinion, visit the all new Native Sun News website: Treaties trump Trump attacks on Indian casinos

(Contact the Editorial Board of Native Sun News at editor@nsweekly.com)

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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