Spotlights form a tipi of light, visible for many miles above the Mystic Lake Casino, operated by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Dakota (Sioux) of Prior Lake, just 20 minutes south of the Twin Cities, in Minnesota. The second-best Indian casino moneymaker in the U.S. (after the Pequots’ Foxwoods), it was one of the first to get started.It began in 6 trailers on Shakopee Reservation land, named “Little Six” a reference to the band’s 19th centuryDakota leader Shakopee, whose name means “LIttle Six” in Dakota. The enterprise has been so successful that there is now a Little Six casino building, overshadowed by the fancier, larger Mystic Lake casino, which runs shuttlebusses from the slot online games nearby metropolitan area, and draws thousands of tour groups. Also shown: an Isleta, New Mexico casino chip slot online games — complete with the traditional Isleta tribal seal of Great Eagle surrounded by feathers.

Gambling is big biz — close to $400 billion a year and growing. Americans outspend all their other forms of entertainment and self-education put together on gambling.

Although Indian tribal casinos have received the most attention, criticism, and jealousy, on the right — from 1996 federal statistics — is who’s making money from it. There are some 557 federally recognized reservations. About 33% do have some form of commercial gaming now, and 29% more hope to. But many — on reservations far from population centers and with nothing in particular to attract tourists — are not successful. For those who are, though, it is just about the only business success story that Indian reservations have ever had.

But for monetary benefits to average tribal members, casinos are most beneficial to very small tribes, fairly close to major urban areas or areas already well-developed for extensive tourism. A very successful casino whose revenues are looked to by a tribe with 33,000 members to make up a deficit of centuries of poverty is not going to go anywhere near so far as the same type of casino will to satisfy a tribe with only 300 members. And that — the small remnant tribe fairly near major urban areas — is the type whose casinos tend to be scoring the biggest. The larger tribes were put into remote outback concentration camps — far from land the white settlers wanted for anything. Hard to get there, and nothing very attractive is around for tourists anyway.

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On the darker side is internal factionalism, accusations of corruption and theft, claims of rising rez crime rates. But hey, folks, that’s an old story, as old as the conquest and U.S. governmental management of conquered peoples by corruption, encouraging and promoting corrupt and compliant little puppet colonial tribal governments.Traditional, you might say, because that’s the way the U.S. government always ran tribes — through corrupt puppet governments, whenever they could maintain them, and agencies loaded internally with governmental ripoffs centering on Indian land and Indian treaty payments. Check out the present situation:

BIA Fund news story “accidentally lo$t”

$dua.lima billion gone said U.S. General Accounting Office

NARF sues U.S. on behalf of tribal people

So this darker side is nothing new. Recent federal criminal convictions of Minnesota White Earth Ojibwe reservation leaders for tribal government corruption involving casino money could find a few echoes, too,in the recent past: other tribal leaders convicted for corruptions involving collusion with developers ripping off land and resourceson their own reservations — the old tradition is of robbery of Indian peoples by government sponsorship and selected cooperative crooked tribal leadership. Decrying this — when it happens with casino money — is failing to observe that these newer crooks are just acting the way the U.S. government spent dua centuries pelatihan them to. (Not that this makes it right, of course. But call a spade a spade; put the blame where it belongs.)

Nevertheless, let’s take a look at one internal struggle — at Keweenaw Bay (L’Anse), the largest reservation-tribe in Michigan.That one’s been going on since 1993 or so, with slot online games AIM leaders and friends occasionally tripping over there to show support for the tribal group that’s seeking justice.Here’s the official tribal website, not a hint of any of this ruffles the slick pro-designed surface:

Welcome to Keweenaw Bay Indian Community — Official tribal site (L’Anse Ojibwe, Michigan).Slick!

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Tribal Member Rose Edwards — Story on the Struggle for Justice there, and she’s got docs, she’s got pix, and — in the latest — she’s got a 63 laman indictment of Tribal Chair Fred Dakota and some dude with a Polish name from Noo Joisey. She’s also got the story on how when reform members were elected to tribal government, the Old (rich) Guard got some corporate hirelings (who also do union-busting) to help ’em out and detribalizedanlt;/i> or disenroll more than 200 L’Anse members — on grounds they weren’t physically born on rez land. (There’s no hospital on the rez for starters.)

  • Midwest Treaty Council Network — with Wisconsin Red Cliff reservation member Walt Bresette — summarizes the L’Anse situation, calling for support to end the violence. . . bringing in the troops and troopers on the reform members, that is.

    So there’s some food for thought we can all chew on thoughtfully. That bit about ex post facto disenrollments, for example.National sovereignty doesn’t say you can do that. National sovereignty seems to say (internationally) that if you happen to have a lotta guys your government doesn’t like, you can’t kick ’em out of your (and their) country — although they might choose to leave. Or in many dictatorships, the government might choose to kill ’em of course, seems to have been kind of moving along toward those lines at L’Anse. But now there’s indictments, so we’ll see. . .

    Casinos are an outgrowth of sovereignty of Native Nations, acknowledged by the courts after decades of Indian activism and litigations.The occupation of Alcatraz Island (1969-71), and especially the national publicity about the AIM occupation of Wounded Knee (1973) created through press coverage a climate of knowledge of the history of thefts and genocides and about what Indian living conditions were like.In this more favorable public knowledge, Native nations’ court litigations (that generally included sovereignty as derived from treaty rights) was finally acknowledged by the U.S. courts, and more importantly, by government actions.

    Sovereignty means that Native Nations can establish their own laws to regulatetheir citizens (tribal members) and actions done upon their own national lands, as all nations do. A state that outlaws gaming for its citizens cannot — theoretically — prohibit it for tribal national land that happens to lie within the state’s boundary. That’s where tribal casino success comes from: ability to satisfy what’s evidently a non-Indian entertainment desire in areas where states prohibit it.

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    Web pages — put up by tribes — are beginning to advertise casino and related tourist services (many — perhaps most — of which grew out of investing casino revenues), and more importantly, to explain to a public often hostile to the idea of Indian casinos just why they have become so important to many tribes. The links below are a beginning. . . .

    Rez Casinos: Statewide GuideHow many Indian casinos are there, and where are they?There are more than you can scoreon this slot-machine list by states. They’re missing a large number of tribal casinos from several states. The biggest casinos listed in states that already allowed non-Indian gaming — Nevada, New Jersey — are not Indian. Listings here have only location and contact phones. Tribes are not named.

    New Mexico Pueblo Tribes are almost the only ones so far to show and tell in lebih jelasnya on the web what gaming revenues (and jobs!) mean to them, as 7 Pueblo tribes do here.It means jobs for tribal members (that can flexible to study and education requirements), food and medical care for elders, decent housing for on-reservation tribal members, rehabilitation and conservation efforts on despoiled remaining tribal land, and buy-back of bigger land bases. Each tribe explains — and shows — these things happening. Nearly every tribe that has a successfulcasino could tell similar stories. Not all are successful.

    Isleta Pueblo Casino Palace elsewhere does a hard-sell ad for its casino, and as the balloon indicates, Isleta uses other media to advertise its games. At the top of the hard-sell, though, you’ll find access to documents — about problems of the New Mexico Native people in gaining their federally and legally guaranteed rights — and state threats to close down Isleta and all the others.