Indians need security of gambling hallsThe Evening...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Indians need security of gambling halls

The Evening Sun has recently carried a number of articles regarding the plans of the Piscataway Conoy Confederacy of Southern Maryland to open a gambling casino and resort complex in Charles or Prince George's counties.

The newspaper published an editorial Oct. 6 entitled "Piscataways Roll the Dice."

The editorial castigates the National Indian Gaming Act, passed in 1988, as compounding the problem of Indian gaming on federally-recognized reservations.

In spite of the fact that Indian gaming operations are permitted only if the state permits similar activities, Indian gaming is seen as somehow different, and more dangerous, than non-Indian gaming.

The fact is that Congress passed the Indian gaming law to protect sovereign Indian nations from exploitation as well as to ensure a dialogue between those Indian nations and the states.

The current uproar nationally regarding Indian gaming is exacerbated in part by a lack of understanding of the treaty-based rights of sovereign Indian nations to conduct their own political and commercial affairs.

All federally-recognized tribes have either their own tribally-run police and law enforcement systems, just as other non-Indian jurisdictions do, or they have United States Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement services.

But the various state attorneys-general chafe at their lack of jurisdiction on reservations, and the controversy over Indian gaming exemplifies the fact that their hands are tied.

Whether one approves of gaming or not, one only has to review the unemployment statistics on most Indian reservations to realize that any enterprise that brings jobs and revenue to the residents is sorely needed.

The unemployment figure on most reservations is conservatively at least 60 percent. Indian leaders are constantly challenged to devise ways to bring employment opportunities to the reservation.

In the instances of the current successful gaming operations at other reservations around the country, one will find that the bulk of the revenues are used for education and economic development programs to benefit the tribe as a whole, to provide emergency medical and housing improvement funds, and to enhance the renaissance of tribal cultures.

Non-Indians, taking for granted a standard of living that most Indian people can barely imagine, had better think twice before blithely condemning an effort such as running games that improves lives and the general well-being of tribal people.

Finally, The Evening Sun concludes, the Piscataways' attempts to cultivate a climate that could eventually allow them to operate a casino or games of some sort "is a dangerous situation that could easily spin out of control."

This is inflammatory and inaccurate. In the first place, there would need to be federal recognition of Piscataway Indians in Maryland. Even if the several groups of Piscataways in our state were united, the process takes a very long time -- decades, most likely.

The process involves meeting numerous stringent requirements set forth by the Bureau of Acknowledgement and Research within the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which apply to all tribes seeking federal recognition.

On other occasions, tribes have turned to Congress for legislative recognition, which is even more tenuous and can take just as long a time. Just ask the Lumbee Indians how easy it is to achieve federal recognition.

One will see that the newspaper's recent attention to Piscataway gaming proposals is completely untimely. The only purpose the news articles and the editorial serve is to broadcast misinformation and to fan the anti-Indian sentiments that bubble usually just beneath the surface of our unfortunately still-racist communities.

Maryland's congressional delegation could better use its time not in tinkering with the existing law on Indian gaming "before it is too late" but on providing Maryland's Indian communities with the information, procedures, and neutral support they need to take their claim forward.

If in fact there is federal recognition of any Indian community in Maryland, then they will be entitled to the trust protections and benefits that extend to other federally-recognized tribes.

Indian cultures -- including those in Maryland -- have rich and historic traditions.

The survival of those cultures, which requires economic self-sufficiency, is of enormous benefit to us all.

Wrexie Bardaglio

Catonsville

No excuse

In reference to your article (Sept. 6) about the $100 million lawsuit against a Roman Catholic priest, I have one question:

How low can the practice of law get when a defense lawyer pleads that the "affair" the 13- and 15-year-olds had with the priest was "the love of their lives?"

Claude W. Todd

Baltimore

Sports column

Ken Rosenthal's excellent sports column Oct. 2 about the name "Bombers" inspires me to respond in a more serious vein.

He made many good points in a hilarious fashion, but the bottom line, as he points out, is that Boogie Weinglass wants "Bombers" because it relates to an item of clothing that his "Merry-Go-Round" sells.

Speaking as a career Air Force person who has crewed in heavy, medium and light, propeller and jet "bombers," who has seen the destruction and carnage of air war, the injury and death of his fellow crew members, the name "Bombers" applied to a sports team just rubs me the wrong way.

As for the B-26 Marauder being an appropriate logo, it certainly is, visually, a beautiful airplane. But it had many problems in training and combat, necessitating at least one complete redesign.

Finally, it has been argued that "Bombers" can be seen to derive from the bombardment of Fort McHenry in 1814. But those were British bombs -- bombs flung by our adversary. Do we want to celebrate the "Bad Guys" with our team's name? Besides, all we need is a losing streak, and "Bombers" can easily become "Bummers."

My family, friends and I still think "Rhinos" is best. Here, we are promoting a real, endangered species ("Bombers" are extinct already, we hope). And, just like professional football players, the Rhino is big, tough, relentless and fast.

Franklin W. Littleton

Baltimore

Support Saddam

Like John Ross ("Start the fight or book the flight," Other Voices, Oct. 6), I thought that allowing Saddam Hussein to continue as an aggressive leader of Iraq was wrong.

However, like it or not, he is our first line of defense against the real enemy, Iran, which is in the process of developing nuclear capabilities.

All Saddam did to us was try to steal some cheap oil from our industrial giants. So we had to demonize him.

In our next real war (of survival), Hussein may be a blessing. We have to let him remain in control and he knows it.

Charles Johnston

Pasadena

Regarding Dundalk

We are very disturbed about the content of an editorial cartoon which appeared in The Evening Sun of Sept. 29.

It appears that the editorial board of your newspaper has not as yet received the message that your newspaper is trying to make friends in the grass roots community.

It is incredible to us that a publication like The Evening Sun would choose to characterize a community of 60,000 people in such an unflattering and abusive manner.

. . . I think it's about time for The Evening Sun to get off its high horse on John Arnick and publish his voting record on women's issues in the State House and forget his behavior in the barroom, about which you seem to have all sorts of insider information, particularly in light of this horrible character assassination of Mr. Arnick and the citizens of Dundalk.

Why would your newspaper sponsor programs in the Dundalk community, like Defenders' Day, Living History or Where's Waldo, a program assigned to promote the use of the library, and other fine programs, when it is apparent that the paper has no feelings or regard for the community whatsoever?

Patricia A. Winter

Dundalk

The writer is the executive director of the Eastern Baltimore Area Chamber of Commerce.

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