Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Quick - how is having your region targeted for an Indian casino like contracting a herpes virus?

Because, aside from having to endure regular and irritating flare ups, you'll need to remain eternally vigilant to prevent it from spreading.

To be sure, the Supreme Court of the United States did present the afflicted with the closest thing to a cure with it's decision in Carcieri v. Salazar - but this hasn't stopped certain forces from working behind the scenes to bring on a relapse.

And so, once again my friends, we are called upon to pick up our pens, our telephones and our laptops and contact our representatives in Congress.

And we have to do it quickly! There's no time to waste!

Several bills and devices designed to create an end-run around Carcieri are being debated as we speak.

These are:
Cobell v Salazar, settlement
S.1703 (Carcieri fix)
H.R.1711 (Akaka bill)
H.R.3690 (The Indian Tribal Federal Recognition Administrative Act - Section 14)

Write your Congressmen immediately and tell them to oppose these bills.

Explain what living with the threat of a tribal casino has meant to you and your family. And, what the potential of living next door to a tax-free sovereign nation could mean for your community, economy and environment.

If you'd like to include more information, please read what Governor Carcieri has had to say about the bill that carries his name, including
  • Why the IRA was never intended as, nor has it been, a blanket authorization for trust,
  • How amending the IRA to permit the secretary to take land into trust for all federally recognized tribes could undermine numerous Indian claims and settlement acts - including those here in Massachusetts,
  • And why a one-size-fits-all amendment to the IRA ignores States' unique political and geographic circumstances
Here are the mailing addresses for our State senators.

Senator John Kerry
218 Russell Bldg.
Second Floor
Washington D.C. 20510
(202) 224-2742 - Phone
(202) 224-8525 - Fax

Senator Scott Brown
Senate Russell Courtyard 1
Washington D.C. 20510
(202) 224-4543

To find your Congressional district representative and his or her contact information
click here

And hey, if you voted for any of these guys, let them know you did!!

Plese find a more detailed description of each bill below. And most importantly, never forget to stay vigilant!!

Cobell v Salazar, settlement

Cobell v. Salazar, one of biggest class-action lawsuits ever brought against the United States, was litigated for a full 15 years before it's parties reached a hurried settlement on Dec. 8th of last year to the tune of $3.4 billion dollars - a settlement which must be approved by Congress before February 28th 2010.

Our objection to Cobell isn't the settling of historic accounting claims by Individual Indian Money (IIM) Account Holders - it is the unnecessary addition of truly objectionable, non-related issues to the “Settlement”.

Addendums have been added to the settlement which appear to eviscerate established constitutional separation of power and states rights while making an end run around 50 years of congressional acts (Dawes Act, IRA, ILCA) and Supreme Court settled law (Sherrill, Carcieri, Hawaii and Navajo Nation).

These added Addendums actually increase the scope of the federal mismanagement of Indian Trust Obligations.

In other words, it's your classic "end-run" plus a sucker punch for good measure.

So, quickly contact your Congressmen asking that he or she definitely not rubber stamp this "settlement" - and to DEMAND there be full disclosure to the public and to Congress before considering action it.

· Executive Branch removal of the legislative authority from the fee to trust process by inserting amendments into the settlement which have nothing to do with the original lawsuit. These amendments must be perceived as a new land acquisition program creating a major change in Federal Indian land policy, which establishes new authority in the executive branch (DOI, DOJ, White House), while removing that authority from the Congress.

· Unlimited power granted to the Secretary of Interior for the transfer of land status from state jurisdiction placing it under Federal control of the Executive Branch.

· Expansion of a seldom used congressional program which allocated 2 Million dollars of federal money per year for purchase of land for Indians to 2 BILLION tax dollars. In addition, the oversight and authority of the expenditure is removed from congress and placed under the sole discretion of the Secretary of the Interior.

· A panicked rush to pass this “Settlement” by the end of 2009 in response to a court case that has been 15 years in litigation is inconceivable. Incorporating schemes which were never an original part of the case into its’ “settlement” not only lacks transparency but also nullifies the current trust process and evades all accountability to the People and Congress while establishing unlimited Secretarial discretion.

· The court approve this Settlement in its entirety before revealing the full details to congress or the public.

S.1703 (Carcieri fix)

Title: A bill to amend the Act of June 18, 1934, to reaffirm the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to take land into trust for Indian tribes.

Sponsor: Sen Dorgan, Byron L. [ND] (introduced 9/24/2009) Cosponsors Akaka, Baucus, Bingaman, Franken, Inouye, Landrieu, Tester, Udall. Related Bills: H.R.3697, H.R.3742

SUMMARY AS OF: 9/24/2009--Introduced.
Amends the Act commonly known as the Indian Reorganization Act to apply the Act to all federally recognized Indian tribes, regardless of when any tribe became recognized. (This effectively overrules the Supreme Court's decision in Carcieri v. Salazar, which held that the Secretary of the Interior could not take land into trust for a specified tribe because that tribe had not been under federal jurisdiction when the Act was enacted.)

Latest Major Action: 12/17/2009 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Indian Affairs. Ordered to be reported with amendments favorably.

(Note-- 27 States attorneys’ general are opposed to this bill.)

H.R.1711 (Akaka bill)

Title: To express the policy of the United States regarding the United States relationship with Native Hawaiians, to provide a process for the reorganization of a Native Hawaiian government and the recognition by the United States of the Native Hawaiian government, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Abercrombie, Neil [HI-1] (introduced 3/25/2009) Cosponsors Bordallo, Faleomavaega, Hirono, Kildee, Moran, Sablan, Young. Related Bills: H.R.862, H.R.2314, S.381, S.708, S.1011 (Akaka bill passed out of SCIA committee Dec. 2009)

Latest Major Action: 3/25/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.

SUMMARY AS OF: 3/25/2009--Introduced.
Establishes the U.S. Office for Native Hawaiian Affairs (Office) within the Office of the Secretary of the Interior.

Requires the Attorney General to designate a Department of Justice official to assist the Office in the implementation and protection of the rights of Native Hawaiians and their political, legal, and trust relationship with the United States.

Establishes the Native Hawaiian Interagency Task Force to:
(1) coordinate federal policies or actions that may significantly or uniquely affect Native Hawaiian resources, rights, or lands;
(2) assure that each federal agency develops a policy on consultation with Native Hawaiians; and
(3) assure the participation of such agencies in the development of an annual report on the Task Force.

Establishes a process for development of a membership roll for organizing a Native Hawaiian Interim Governing Council and for election of a Native Hawaiian government. Recognizes the right of the Native Hawaiian people to adopt organic governing documents.

Extends federal recognition to the government as the representative governing body of the Native Hawaiian people upon election of officers and certification by the Secretary.

Permits the United States, upon federal recognition of the Native Hawaiian government, to enter into an agreement with the state of Hawaii and such government regarding the transfer of lands, resources, and assets dedicated to Native Hawaiian use.

Prohibits the Native Hawaiian governing entity and Native Hawaiians from conducting gaming activities as a matter of claimed inherent authority or under any federal law, regardless of where the gaming is located. Related bills.
H.R.862, H.R.2314, S.381, S.708, S.1011



Title: To establish a Commission on Recognition of Indian Tribes to review and act on petitions by Indian groups applying for Federal recognition, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep Faleomavaega, Eni F.H. [AS] (introduced 10/1/2009) Cosponsors Abercrombie, Hirono, Rahall.

Latest Major Action: 10/1/2009 Referred to House committee on Natural Resources.

RED ALERT: A "Carcieri Fix" is quietly tucked into this bill at section 14.

The Act of June 18, 1934 (25 U.S.C. 461 et seq.; popularly known as the `Indian Reorganization Act'), is applicable to all tribes recognized by the Commission, without regard to whether such tribe was under Federal jurisdiction as of June 18, 1934.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

And Justice For All

Yesterday, in Philadelphia, 13 people, ranging in age from 25 to 72 had their day in court.

Last September, as part of a larger protest, the 13 had locked arms, refusing to move away from the entrance of the Sugar House casino construction site in their city.

The Sugar House 13, as they are now called, included "several grandparents, two members of the clergy, and a few public school teachers, and veterans of the civil rights movement".

And at least one guy I know personally.

Jethro Heiko, a member of CasinoFreePhila, made me feel like family at the 2008 National Stop Predatory Gambling Convention just outside of Washington DC. The lone member of and CasinoFreeMass at the convention that day, I was encouraged to join the party at the CasinoFreePhila table, to watch the presidential debates with them that evening, and to otherwise hang out and connect. In 2009 Jethro came to Boston to offer his help, as an organizer, in our fight. I still carry one of the "little casino factbooks" he left with us in my purse, and I've taken him up on his generous offer to reference his organization's website for anything I may need more times than I can count.

I've been following the Sugar House protest with interest, not just on account of Jethro, but because it occurs to me that this is where we'll end up in Massachusetts, that other Commonwealth, if the doors swing open to casino interests. Because that's where that road does lead, make no mistake. Standing in front of a judge because you had the audacity to stand up for the safety of that place you call home. The place where you live and work and raise your children.

Standing up to bulldozers. Becoming insignificant pawns in a political shell game. Watching your world tipped on it's side while everything you learned about democracy is gambled away in the middle of the night on the 4th of July.

But yesterday, in perhaps what may be a turning of the tide, the SugarHouse 13 were aquitted on all counts.

At one point in the trial, the prosecution tried to "prevent community members from presenting documents on predatory gambling,". The judge, however, allowed them.

Another familiar face of CasinoFreePhila, Daniel Hunter, said, "We do direct action not because we want to, but because the system has become illegitimate and corrupt," - which just may be the truest statement I've ever heard about why we begin and why we continue to fight predatory gambling.

I don't want to be here fighting, still, after almost 3 years. As USS-Mass president Kathleen Norbut likes to say, "It's not like I needed another hobby". But when something is this wrong, you either stand up to the bulldozers, or you allow them roll over you.

Fortunately, here in Massachusetts, we still have a choice. We can still prevent a day when the mere act of protecting our homes, our families, our communities - and even our democracy - lands us in front of a judge.

Individually, we can act now, with the smallest of noble acts.

Or, we can wait, and do nothing, with the hope that there will be others willing to lock their arms with ours when it's our turn to stand in front of the gambling industry's relentless bulldozers.

Which will you choose?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bob DeLeo Hears Gambling Opponents “loudly and clearly”

The speaker told host Emily Rooney that he has heard gambling opponents “loudly and clearly” and plans to fund addiction recovery programs through funds reaped from the gambling expansion.
--Statehouse News Service 2/10/10


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Therefore Be It Resolved

I thought my readers would like to know about this. (Emphasis mine.)

The following excerpt from a 2009 Winter Conference Resolution of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians of the United States, can be expected to be replicated across many regional tribal entities, and incorporated into the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) platform:

From briefing paper: Clear Views of the Department of Interior,
Bureau of Indian Affairs And Various Tribal leaders
by Elaine Willman, Citizens Equal Rights Alliance

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians calls upon Congress to hold summits and hearings to address the following issues:
Reaffirmation of the Indian Reorganization Act.

The need to address taxation of fee lands owned by tribes and individuals which are within the exterior boundaries of the reservation and the need to alleviate jurisdictional conflicts of such lands.

Expediting the process of federal transfers of lands to Indian tribes.

Establish a congressional process to document the loss of individual trust allotment that occurred through the establishment of Competency Commissions beginning in 1914 and the use of forced fee patents beginning in 1906, whereby thousands of allotments which were lost during the aforementioned processes, be returned to trust status upon reacquisition without the current requirement of state and/or county comments.

Provide for adequate fee to trust staffing and training for BIA and Tribal Realty offices responsible for completion of the fee to trust application process.

Enforcement of the moratorium on acceleration and foreclosure proceedings by the USDA enacted in May 22, 2008 provided in P.L. 110-234, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008.”
While you're busy chewing on that, here's another little tidbit you might enjoy. The following comment was made by Cheryl Andrews-Maltais of the Aquinnah Mashpee Tribe at a July 8, 2009 consultation session conducted by the Department of Interior. Three such sessions were held across the country at various locations.
Cheryl Andrews-Maltais: I would like to invite everyone up to Massachusetts and/or the New England states because…it’s very difficult to really comprehend the totality of the impact of 400 years of encroachment when you are a tribe in the northeast.
Frankly Cheryl, I'd like to invite everyone up to Massachusetts, too. What better way to witness first-hand the impact of 400 years of assimilation and cultural ambiguity. Better yet - to witness what happens when failed federal policy has permitted encroachment upon homes, schools, places of worship,
small businesses, areas of historical significance, vital watersheds and environmentally fragile eco-systems, by certain middle-class casino-obsessed Massachusetts tribes, so laser-focused with greed that they can't see the forests for the slots.

Monday, February 8, 2010


What week it's been. Wampanoags in Fall River and Freetown. Pocassets in an uproar. A rare Jack Healey siting. Town employees insisting "No comment". And quotes from tedious and mercifully ex-selectman Adam Bond. I felt like I was living in a little place called Bizzaroland - because what was up, was down, and what was down, was up. What was right was wrong, and what was wrong, well that was actually what was right for the economic benefit of... somebody.

So what's going on? Well, let me try to help clear some things up.

1.) Wampanoags scouting casino property in Fall River, Freetown and possibly other Southeastern Mass locales.

It's no secret that gambling expansion is once again on the table. And lets' face it, when you toss chum overboard, who shows up? Sharks. What you are currently witnessing is a feeding frenzy among sharks and bottom feeders alike to get the best bite out of the Bay State should casino legislation be passed. This happens every single time the battle heats up, but this time, with gambling cheerleaders Bob DeLeo and Therese Murray pushing hard, and gambling opponents like Sal DiMasi out of the way, the fish are particularly whipped up.

The Mashpee know they're not going to get a casino in Middleboro, so they're looking for greener, less federally frowned upon pastures, or as Cedric Cromwell might say, "conducting due diligence". And so, they are welcome to abandon their quest to "come home" to Middleboro and "come home" to somewhere else they've never been, and once there, to file another application and go through the process again.

They are also free to buy land and vie to purchase a license, if one were to become available, for a commercial casino. Which the Governor may let them have - if he hated the people of Massachusetts. The Mashpee tribal leadership hasn't demonstrated that they could lead a marching band, let alone their 1,500 member tribe, not to mention a separate sovereign nation harboring potentially one of the world's largest casinos.

2.) The State Indian Affairs Commission may be 'giving' the Mashpee Tribe land for a casino.

Ain't gonna happen. First, the State, including the Indian Affairs Commission can't give the tribe land on which to conduct gambling operations. There are strict federal regulations in place controlling this sort of thing. It is a federal issue. Period. If the state ever did, for whatever perverse reason, attempt to transfer land to a tribe which then attempted to 'game' on it - it would be lawsuit a-go-go. Personally, I think the reporter went looking to the commission for a quote and found someone who wanted to seem much, much more important than he actually is.

3.) But wait, it looks like Jack Healey is involved again!

Jack, with his vast misunderstanding of both federal regulations and the concept of cost benefit, may indeed have invited a tribe or two behind closed doors. But my guess is that it's a nothing but a big fat cokinydink.

4.) Why is the Middleboro planning director is saying "no comment" in the press?

Planning Director Ruth Geoffroy has, in recent years, built her hopes and career on a Middleboro casino. Sailing with her three sheets to the wind across the Kool-Aid sea, Ruth has, perhaps, suddenly found her ship of dreams scuttled on the rocky shores of reality. She's obviously in a state of shock. Let's all give her a moment.

5.) "Mr. Bond said he believes the state will approve slot machines at the Raynham dog track and will also consider offering the track owners a commercial license if they make plans to build a casino resort in the future."

The fact is, there will likely be several gambling bills put forth this month, including those that provide for racinos only, casinos only, and a combination of both. This is no surprise. In a display of unabashed hypocrisy, many pro-casino enthusiasts, such as AFL-CIO's Bobby Haynes, and gambling industry lobbyist Clyde Barrow, have begun mysteriously seeing eye-to-eye with racetrack interests like speaker Bob Deleo. Sure slots, don't bring jobs, but that's ok with Clyde and Bobby. They just want to help that vampire get his foot in the door. That's all.

I haven't observed Mr. Bond's presence at any State gambling hearings, so I'm unclear as to why he is quoted in the Middleboro Gazette as if he has some sort of special inside knowledge. If seeking an actually knowledgeable opinion on the issue, the reporter could easily have contacted Frank Dunphy, president of, and/or Kathleen Norbut, president of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts, either or whom would have been happy to go on record. But, if accuracy is unimportant, and the issue of predatory gambling nothing but a joke to the Gazette, then by all means, do keep printing everything Mr. Bond pulls out of his butt.

And one more thing. Regarding the statement, "Mr. Bond abruptly resigned from the board last January after colleagues rebuffed his assertions that the board should try to renegotiate it's contract with the tribe in light of the resignation and later imprisonment on federal charges of former tribal council chairman Glenn Marshall." Since we're clearing up fact from fiction, let's get this straight. Mr. Bond resigned in a weird hissy fit after throwing his various Board colleagues under the bus, in an anxious attempt to deflect personal and professional liability for his part in the casino chronicles - which might have lead to possible federal charges. And should, in my opinion.

Mr. Bond has repeatedly tried to re-write his history, and now it would appear, he has help.

6.) But what about the Pocassets? Can't they build a casino on their land?

No. This is not trust land, or Indian land, or federal land. And don't forget about SCOTUS. No casino.

7.) But why do I keep hearing that work "inevitable" again?

According to Steven Smith of SRPEDD "There is an inevitability about a casino in Southeastern Massachusetts." Well, I'm sure glad Mr. Smith wasn't fighting on our side during the American revolution - or we might have been scarfing down tea and crumpets during the Superbowl last night.

The fact is, the 'inevitability' card is drawn over and over again on this issue because the other reasons to legalize it are weak. The industry relies on inflated job numbers and salaries, along with other gimmicks to dupe the public. Lobbyists harangue legislators. The truth gets lost.

A colleague of mine who sat through the Oct. legislative hearings admitted to me that, after listening to Mashpee Wampaonag chairman Cedric Cromwell's testimony, even he was unaware of all the major impediments to a Southeast tribal casino.

Other people just believe that everything they hear in the papers is the gospel truth. I know I did before this issue opened my eyes.

And that's what they count on. So don't let them get away with it. Fight ignorance with facts.

The inevitability card is drawn for one reason only - it stops the most powerful foe and scariest thing the industry knows - us.

8.) So what are the real facts?

The facts are that there is a still a SCOTUS decision preventing land in trust for Indian Tribes federally recognized after 1934 which includes both federally recognized tribes in Massachusetts, and would include the Pocassets were they to be federally recognized in the future. This decision has yet to be overturned or "fixed".

Level III gambling is still illegal in Massachusetts.

The truth is, YOU can personally help stop both a "fix" and prevent the expansion of gambling in Massachusetts with just a few minutes of your time.

More on that in a day or two.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Unfriending Obama

Mayor of Las Vegas Oscar Goodman, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D - Nevada), and Nevada republican candidate Danny Tarkanian are steaming mad and demanding an apology from President Obama for excessive Las Vegas Bashing. The bashing in question?

"When times are tough, you tighten your belts," the president said. "You don't go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don't blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you're trying to save for college."
--President Obama, speaking at a New Hampshire town hall meeting yesterday

"You can't go take that trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on taxpayers' dime"
--President Obama, criticizing Wall Street excesses last February

This is probably just some misunderstanding. I'm certain that what President Obama was trying to say was, if you're going to blow your kid's college fund, or take a pleasure trip on the taxpayers dime, there is no better place to do it than beautiful and economically depressed Las Vegas, and not at your local or State sponsored casinos.

Or maybe he was trying to say that only completely irresponsible idiots blow their cash at casinos during tough economic times.

Yeah. That was probably it.

Meanwhile, completely irresponsible idiots are demanding an apology.