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Violence and Gaming

The current use of gaming as an alternative form of making money on reservations may have negative effects on tribal communities. For instance, many who oppose gaming say that casinos are also a factor with crime. In addition, the issue of gaming itself is an occasional source of conflict among tribe members, conflict that in the past has erupted into violence between other people. This conflict involves concern over the impact gaming might have upon Indians. Some people are worried that the Indians money is not being handled very well.

Things that have taken place in the Elem Indian Colony in Lake County, California increase the possibility of violence on reservations that have casinos. For many tribes, gaming is a chance for other sorts of income in the face of losing money, the traditional source of cash on most reservations where natural resources are not very likely and lack of funds discourages private investment. The implications of partial sovereignty allotted to reservation Indians were initially realized in 1979 when the Seminoles opened the first high-stakes bingo hall on a Florida reservation.

Following a series of trials favoring gaming on reservations, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 caused the present situation of Indian gambling initiatives. According to the National Indian Gaming Commission, approximately one third of federally recognized Indian tribes in the US have negotiated agreements to run casinos, over a hundred of which are currently at work. These casinos, along with other gambling operations, generated close to $4 billion in gross revenues last year.

While gaming has produced a lot of money for a number of tribes as well as the communities surrounding their reservations, it has caused other effects as well. First, some have claimed that gaming results in increased crime. Second, there have been several instances of intratribal violence linked to disagreements of gaming. Even without gaming, reservations experience crime rates significantly higher than the national averages. In one of many, 15. 4 homicides are reported among every 100,000 Native Americans every year, where only 9 homicides occur for every 100,000 US residents in general.

Whether crime rates such as this have increased since the era of gaming began is presently being debated. A 1992 study of the effects of casinos on one Lower Sioux reservation in Minnesota suggests that crime – including drug use and domestic violence – increased significantly after gaming started. One such person is Genevieve Jackson, a council member of Shiprock Navajo reservation in Arizona, who claims that casinos are associated with “increased family violence and child abuse.

Others worry about the possibility of violent theft of cash-carrying gamblers, while still others fear organized crime activity. In California, at least two tribal leaders have been murdered after claiming that Indians were not receiving a fair share of profits from casinos run with the help of outsiders. Nevertheless, many disagree that gambling is tied to increased violent crime. Federal authorities that deal with crime on reservations, such as the FBI and US attorneys, have reported no increase in violence related to casinos.

Richard Hill, Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA), corroborated this assessment last month when he addressed the House Judiciary Committee, asserting that tribes are actually experiencing a decrease in crime. He explained this decrease as resulting from fewer crimes being committed “which spring from poverty, unemployment, alcoholism, and despair. ” Although it might be too soon to gauge the effect gaming will have on crime in general, there have been several outstanding occasions on which the very issue of gaming itself has resulted in conflict and even bloodshed among tribe members.

Over the years, both violent and nonviolent confrontations have been attributed to factional disputes concerning the existence and/or implementation of gaming on reservations from New York to North Carolina to Arizona. An example of violence occurred at the beginning of October 1992 in California, less than one hundred miles north of San Francisco. In 1992, violence exploded at Clear Lake’s Elem Pomo Indian Community between two disputing tribes. Chairman Thomas Brown’s control of the reservation’s two casinos.

Over the following six days, 10 residents were wounded in gun battles while nearly 70 others fled the ranch to escape the violence. The conflict arose from a lawsuit filed in March accusing Brown of embezzling money from one of the ranch’s casinos. On October 13,1992 the same day law enforcement officials achieved a cease-fire between the warring factions, the NIGA decreed the closing of both casinos. This episode in California is one of the most recent in a series of gambling-related confrontations on the nation’s reservations.

Earlier that year, three men were killed in a shoot-out at a Seneca reservation in New York during a power struggle believed by many to have been exacerbated by the presence of casinos. New York is also home to the St. Regis Mohawk reservation where, in 1990, two men were killed in gunfights during a “civil war” between two different gaming reservations. In an attempt on a Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina, the Tribal Council refused to hold a referendum on whether to allow a proposed casino despite the existence of a petition requesting one signed by 70 percent of the registered voters.

As with other gaming-linked violence, federal officials have been quick to dismiss occurrences of armed intratribal confrontation involving casinos as rare. Following the 92 Elem disturbance, a spokesman for the National Indian Gaming Commission stated, “It’s something we haven’t really seen elsewhere. ” These sentiments are the same as those said in response to similar incidents in the past. For example, a Bureau of Indian Affairs attorney in Washington said of the St. Regis conflict: “It certainly is not a reflection of Indian gambling in general.

Current legislation and court decisions leave regulation of reservation gaming to tribe members themselves. Local and state authorities can enter intratribal confrontations only after shots have been fired, and the federal government must wait until violence has occurred or a suit has been filed. Therefore, as suspicions of corruption within tribal organizations and over traditions continue to surface, the reservation must develop new ways of dealing with problems concerning any conflict.

In conclusion, I would have to say that the violence on these has been a problem in the past, but I hope they are through. Native Americans have had to fight all their lives for what they believe in, I hope that it doesnt continue because Native Americans, in my opinion are one of the most pure races we have left in our society. It seems as if all they have done since theyve been in America is give. With casinos they have benefited just about everyone as far as jobs and a source of entertainment.

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