Monday, April 7, 2014

A different side of the casino argument: the effect on tribes

Posted By on Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 3:58 PM

Most of the talk about the Rochester area potentially getting a casino has centered on the effects, positive and otherwise, that such an establishment might have on the region’s economy, on the social fabric, on addiction, on tourism, and the rest of it.

Very little has been said about the potential effects on the Seneca Nation, the group that is eyeballing Rochester, specifically Henrietta, for a casino.

I’m going to speak generally because I don’t know the particulars of the operation of each tribe. But I did some reading over the weekend, and was surprised by what I learned.

Some tribes are shedding enrollment, essentially expelling members because, the suspicion is, they want to limit profit-sharing from casinos. They do this by instituting bloodline requirements. But others say the rules are rigged to carry out old feuds, concentrate power, and to practice de facto racism — kicking out people who don’t look “Indian enough.”

In addition to losing whatever benefits they received from the tribe, the expelled members say they are left “culturally homeless” — robbed of their communities and traditions.

Some of those in favor of the new requirements say they are necessary because, with casino profits in play — and the size of some of the annuity checks is staggering — people with even the slightest connection claim they’re entitled to casino money.

The arguments are, of course, much more nuanced than I’ve presented here. But the whole thing is fascinating, and it’s a side you don’t normally hear when the topic of casinos comes up.

More by Christine Carrie Fien

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