Dear Big Daddy,
If there is any discrimination going on, it is against all the California citizens, the "non-Indians," who are not allowed to have tax-free, regulation-free casinos ANYWHERE in the state. Boo-Hoo. So tribes have to build these money-printing machines on their own land. What a hardship.
I have a suspicion that the irony around "tribal sovereignty" goes a little deeper than most of us are willing to admit. The feds have a shown ability to, uh, use language creatively in their interactions with Indians over the years.
I bet a lot of conversations boiled down to: You want us to help support you because you can't grow anything on that abandoned mercury mine we gave you as a reservation? Sorry, you're a sovereign nation! You guys want civil rights–like not being murdered? Sorry, etc. etc.
But the Indians have gotten revenge a couple different ways: No. 1, tobacco, and No. 2, gambling.
Europeans may have mostly depopulated the Americas, but slow-and-steady cancer sticks have won that morbid race, sending one blue-eyed devil after another to that great snuff box in the sky.
Meanwhile, gaming money threatens to give black lung to our democracy-at least if you listen to that small but growing anti-gaming movement. It's hard to get the cat back in the bag when the cat bought the bag from you, opened up three restaurants and a gas station around it, and suddenly has the money to hound you out of office if you even mention the idea of bag-related legislation.
It's not even so much that we're against what they're doing-it's the fact that we seem to have little or no control over what they're doing. That is, once they have their gaming compacts in hand. Prior to that, the state has lots of power.
Now I personally think it's a crisis of imagination that gaming is the only type of compact we're handing out.
Why not go all-out and have the tribes provide a wider variety of vice-related services? Why not Prostitution compacts, Ultimate Fighting Championship compacts, Quickie-Wedding and Divorce Chapel compacts?
Come to think of it, there is one semi-licit activity where California could really use some help right now. One that the people of California have said unequivocally that they want. One that would be making huge tax payments to the state, except the feds keep bogarting all the money. And one where that whole sovereignty complication could prove real handy.
By now, you've probably guesses what I'm thinking. That's right: Cannabis Compacts!
Sure, we'd potentially forgo a lot of tax revenues. But the feds keep raiding that stash anyway. What we'd get in return is the ability to hand off this headache to some tribes who would have the money and motivation to tie the DEA in legal pretzels. Not to mention the funds that would quickly funnel to pro-pot pols.
Sure, there'd be a few complicating factors.
We don't want stoners driving hundreds of miles into the desert, especially if they have glaucoma. We don't new battles with the DEA.
But perhaps after a few bong hits, those will seem like mere details and not really that big a deal.