Gaming Symposium Excludes Tribal Governments; Tribal Leaders Cite Anti-Indian Agenda; Key Legislator Calls for Inclusive Process

Press Release
For Immediate Release


Gaming Symposium Excludes Tribal Governments; Tribal Leaders Cite Anti-Indian Agenda; Key Legislator Calls for Inclusive Process

November 13, 2002

An upcoming symposium on gaming slated in Sacramento for Thursday is deliberately excluding tribal representatives and is based upon an anti-Indian agenda, tribal leaders charged Wednesday.

No tribal government member or federal official was invited to participate in the Statewide Local Government Symposium being organized by a well-known anti-Indian gaming activist and a lobbyist for the California card club industry.

Listed as “hosts” for the event are Cheryl Schmit, head of “Stand Up for California!” and Sonoma County Supervisor Valerie Brown, who also serves as executive director for “California Cities for Self Reliance.” Brown is paid $180,000 by the Los Angeles County cities of Commerce, Bell Gardens, Gardena and Hawaiian Gardens to head the organization, which was formed to limit tribal government gaming in California.

“Ms. Schmit and Ms. Brown's notion of a balanced approach is reprehensible,” says Brenda Soulliere, chairwoman for the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, which represents most tribal governments with gaming. “Their exclusion of tribal representatives in this so called ‘balanced’ discussion demonstrates their bias, lack of seriousness and respect for tribal governments. Excluding tribal participation defies the fundamental notion of fairness.”

Schmit, in an e-mail to CNIGA offices late Tuesday, denied a request to allow a tribal government representative to even attend the symposium, claiming the meeting room is overbooked. “I have 82 confirmed participants,” she said, “all members of local government, state agencies or commissions.”

“It is very clear to me that the compacts are between the governor under state law and the tribes under federal law,” says Sen. Jim Battin, R-La Quinta, the author of legislation ratifying the tribal-state compacts. “What this group should do if they want to take part in this process is be inclusive. It is very disappointing to see that the tribes are not being included in this symposium.”

A panel titled “State Policy Jurisdiction and Laws Regulating Tribal Gaming” not only lacks a member of a tribal government, but includes Richard De Cuir, chief deputy director of the California Gambling Control Commission. Tribal governments contend the commission has exceeded its state-mandated authority under the tribal-state compacts agreed to in 1999.
“Tribes are deeply disappointed that they were not given the opportunity to participate in this discussion,” says Jacob Coin, CNIGA executive director. “Tribes have always responded to opportunities to openly discuss issues of sovereignty and the impact of tribal gaming on local governments.”

Tribal governments take very seriously the impact tribal gaming may have on counties and municipalities. Tribal governments included in the compacts with the state a pledge to pay $1 billion over the next 18 years to help fund road improvements and other services.

Tribal government gaming in California employs more than 35,000 people, most of who are non-Indian. The industry also generates hundreds of millions of dollars in annual tax revenues to the state. Tribal businesses also spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year for local goods and services.

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