The wrong side of history
the English, the Africans, the French, the Germans, the Irish, the
Italians and others came to these shores, there were the Native
Americans. By trick and military might, the immigrants and their
descendants gained control of this great nation from the Native
American custodians of the land.
By treaty and
federal concession, various areas across the country have been
designated Indian reservations or federal trusts. These areas are then
granted partial sovereignty, a status that, among other things, permits
tribes to establish gambling casinos.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs of the U.S. Department of Interior also
has the responsibility of managing Indian trust funds from these lands.
This agency is supposed to assure that oil, gas, timber and other
royalties from non-Indian sources are paid into the trust. However,
Blackfoot Indians and others have alleged in federal court that $100
billion in royalties have disappeared. Last week, U.S. District Judge
James Robertson ruled that the Department of Interior “unreasonably
delayed” accounting of the money and scheduled a hearing to discuss
remedies for “the department’s unrepaired, and irreparable, breach of
its fiduciary duty over the last century.”
Some citizens seem to believe that Native Americans have no special
rights that others need to respect. Salvatore F. DiMasi, the speaker of
the Massachusetts House of Representatives, seems to believe that his
disdain for gambling casinos trumps the sovereign right of the
Wampanoag Indians to establish one.
DiMasi is wrong. This is an argument that DiMasi will lose, and his
recalcitrance will cost the state millions of dollars in lost fees from
casinos. Legislators in Connecticut found that it made more sense to
come to terms with the Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohicans than to
spend huge legal fees to delay the inevitable. Gov. Charlie Crist of
Florida was forced last month to permit the Seminoles to institute Las
Vegas-type gambling in their casinos. The Florida Legislature objected,
but federal courts granted the Indians’ petition.
The Wampanoags will be able to establish a casino. The only question is
when. Gov. Deval Patrick would like to negotiate a satisfactory
agreement with the Wampanoags, but he can do so only with the support
of the Legislature. If DiMasi is willing to create a major financial
risk for the Commonwealth, it is time for other legislators to stand up
Patrick’s tactics of delaying the casino approval process will not last
forever. DiMasi and the Legislature must get in the game.
years, African American parents have told their children, “You can be
anything you put your mind to, even president of the United States.”
This was a loving way to encourage their children to work hard in
school. Everyone always thought that the statement was a gross
exaggeration, but clever children got the idea.
success of Barack Obama’s campaign has caused many African Americans to
conclude that perhaps the time has come. Super Tuesday established that
Obama is not on a quixotic quest.
The fundamental question was whether whites would vote for a black to
be president. It is now clear that Iowa was not just an aberration.
Obama won in Iowa, which has a black population of only 2.3 percent. On
Super Tuesday, Obama won in Idaho, Utah and North Dakota — all of which
have black populations of less than 1 percent — in a two-candidate
race, and he won in Alaska, Kansas and Minnesota, none of which has a
black population of greater than 5.6 percent. Last Saturday, he also
won in Nebraska and the state of Washington, two places with miniscule
black populations. On Sunday, he won in predominantly white Maine’s
Obama’s campaign is making it clear that the White House is no longer
the exclusive domain of those of primarily European heritage.
“So much for the argument that Obama can’t get the white vote.”