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Indian Gaming Regulatory Act Essay

In 1988, Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act establishing gaming on Indian reservations as a means of helping tribes become self-sufficient and less dependent on government dole-outs. Donald Bartlett and James B. Steele co-wrote an article which appeared in Time magazine on December 16, 2002 entitled “Wheel of Misfortune” negatively criticizing the consequences of instituting the said Act. A day later, the Native American Times published an editorial which contains dissenting arguments against the first article.

According to Bartlett and Steele, the major defect of the Act is the unequal redistribution of profits derived from gaming in the reserves: “It gives billions of dollars to the white backers of Indian businesses and nothing to hundred of Native Americans living in poverty…hundreds of millions of dollars to one Indian tribe with a few dozen numbers—and not a penny to a tribe with hundreds of thousands of members…(78)” The bulk of the essay expounds and provides evidence to these assertions. It also points to the fact that while these tribes earn tax-free revenues, they continue to collect millions in government aid.

The Native American Times editorial, meanwhile, accuses the Time magazine article as simply a piece that “fan the flames of racism with lies (“Indian Gaming” 84)” and proceeds to either refute or justify the points raised of the latter. Bartlett and Steele claim that only a few Indians are benefiting financially from the Native-American gaming industry thus defeating the purpose of the act, which is to raise the average Native American out of poverty. At the same time, a high percentage of the profits from these lucrative casinos go to the wealthy leaders of tribes.

The editorial counters this argument by stating that there are varied reasons why some tribes do well than others. It cites the case of Oklahoma, home to more Native Americans than any other state. The state prohibits Class III gambling thus preventing an opportunity for the Native Americans in Oklahoma from realizing the Congressional Act. Today tribes continue to “fight with every resource available to them to hold off those who would send them back to the metaphoric reservation (“Indian Gaming 85). ” The editorial also praises the success story of the Shakopee tribe which the Time magazine article derides.

The success is well-deserved, according to the editorial, since this group has experienced one of the most harrowing histories of violence inflicted against Native Americans. For all its passionate defense and criticism of the Time magazine article, the editorial of the Native American Times does not touch on the other issues raised by the former like cronyism among the tribal leaders, the involvement of white Americans behind the casino operations, and the applications for recognition by extinct tribes that suddenly resurrects because of the business opportunity.

Then again, the former is a lengthier and more detailed presentation complete with figures and facts, in keeping also with its being an investigative article. Nevertheless, it can be argued that the editorial does not need to refute the Time magazine article point by point and that its entire argument is summed up when the editorial writer states that the reason why people like Bartlett and Steele are being too critical about the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act is because “the thought of rich Indians is against nature we can only assume (85). Inequality, anomalies, and other issues about the Native American and their casinos may exist but they are no different to those in regular gaming industries. Despite some wealthy members, Native Americans are still the poorest and most victimized people in America.


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