Fred Dickey's Nov. 13 commentary, "Indian Casinos Open Way for Black Reparations," had an interesting premise but distorts history and the law in order to attack Indian gaming. As a professor of law, I have taught that Indian law is a complex and fluid area of law, but to claim that reservations and the right to have casinos are some kind of gift from the non-Indian governments is incorrect.
Reservations were what remained after Europeans stole the other 99% of the land. They were used to attempt to force sedentary and agricultural lifestyles upon people who fished and hunted and traded over large geographic areas. And most land on reservations today is owned by non-Indians.
Regulation of Indian affairs by local, state and federal governmental entities varies according to such factors as the type of commerce, the tribal status of the parties and the location of the commerce. Indian sovereignty may be limited by conquest, but it is alive and well, as it should be. I'd rather have casinos providing free education, health care, housing and economic-development aid to Indian people than have them on welfare.
Dickey draws a false analogy between granting Indian tribes the right to run casinos and paying reparations to African Americans. Casinos are businesses, however socially harmful, not mere handouts. A valid analogy would exist if the federal government had written every American Indian a check for, say, $100,000.
Dickey had better revisit history if he thinks that "the reservation system was instituted to give tribes a haven from exploitation by non-Indians." Is the ghetto a haven? If he wishes to receive empathy for his cause he will not get it via lack of research and insulting those who have endured.
George A. Renville
Dickey's column is flawed. Only a small part of the Native American population benefits from casino money. One only needs to drive through Plains reservations to see widespread poverty, alcoholism, etc., and the real truth. Native Americans have never asked for reparations; they only want us to honor the treaties we signed.
Spotted Elk Foundation