Indians Respond to TIME
By Earl
A rapid, fiery, written response to an article in Time magazine’s December 16th edition, purportedly analysing the real state of tribal casino life for 184 tribes, questions whether a monument of the press is above reproach regarding minorities. Ernest L. Stevens, Jr., Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association, writes in an open letter to Time that he was disgusted with the article’s exploitation of language in certain ways in an effort to influence readers’ opinions against tribal casino gambling. Stevens also charges that, “Your reporters use isolated circumstances to write what amounts to a gossip column. Your story is based on the false and offensive premise that ‘Washington’ created Indian gaming as a ‘cheap way to wean tribes from government handouts.’

Stevens cites an obvious fact -- “Indian gaming is not a federal program.” Stevens then defends Indian gaming as a means to provide revenues for taking care of his own people, and charges in essence that no Indian is automatically inclined to accept the handouts of the government which in the past tolerated so much race hatred and genocide against them.

“Indian gaming is self-reliance,” Stevens writes. But he adds that the Indian gaming industry has created over 300,000 jobs in areas where there are no other significant job-creators. 75% of these jobs are held by whites or other non-Indians. 60% of all Indian tribes are dependent on gambling, and revenues are used to fund “tribal government programs, community infrastructure, charity, and aid to local governments. Where Indian Tribes have suffered the highest teen suicide rates in the country, Indian gaming has built schools, funded colleges scholarships, and given our children hope for a brighter future. The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, for example, built two schools and their high school graduates are now fluent in both Ojibwe and English. Where our people suffer epidemic problems of diabetes, heart, and liver disease, Indian gaming is building health clinics, dialysis centers, and fitness centers,” Stevens adds.

Stevens’ long letter goes on to state how Tribal gaming is aiding local government in many places and promoting charitable causes. Stevens also cited the fact that Indian gaming “generates over $4 billion in annual revenue for the Federal Government, over $1 billion for the states, and $50 million for local governments. American Indians pay another $4 billion in personal Federal income taxes,” Stevens told Time.

Stating in a number of ways that the Time report just got it all wrong about tribal self-government, federal assistance, and life in general under an economy and a culture of gambling, Stevens concluded for his people that, “... we find it highly offensive that TIME published an article belittling tribal self-government and the very positive attempts of tribal governments to overcome dispossession, poverty, and social wrongs for hundreds of years. You do not belittle Israeli or Palestinian efforts toward self-determination, but you cannot fathom that within the United States, Indian Tribes continue to be vital, self-governing nations working to build a life for our people. Indian gaming has positively impacted local communities, and has transformed Tribal communities that were once forgotten. It provides jobs to many who never worked before, provides care for our elders, and brings hope and opportunity to our children. Manufacturing scandal to sell magazines at the cost of these advances is most dishonorable.”

Some letter.

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