Document:California Press Release 28 May 1998 Work-to-Welfare On Horizon for Indian Tribes

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Office of the Executive Director
11966 Moorpark St., #1
Studio City, CA 91604-1720
For immediate release: May 28, 1998
For additional information:
Juan Ros, LPC Executive Director
Phone: (818) 980-8833

"Work-To-Welfare" on horizon for Indian tribes, says Libertarian Party of California

LOS ANGELES -- California is threatening to send thousands of Indians back on welfare - by depriving them of the right to earn a living through gaming, the Libertarian Party of California charged today.

"Politicians have been touting 'welfare-to-work' programs lately. This is the first example I've seen of 'work-to-welfare,' and it's absolutely tragic," declared Libertarian state chair Mark Hinkle.

Hinkle's statement comes in the midst of the ongoing feud between Governor Pete Wilson and California's 41 Indian gaming tribes. After signing a compact with the nongaming Pala band of Mission Indians in March, Wilson demanded that all California gaming tribes accept the Pala compact or risk shutdown of their gaming machines.

In response to the current crisis, the Libertarian Party of California passed a resolution in support of Indian gaming.

At issue are "Class III," or Las Vegas-style games, which under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act require a negotiated compact between tribe and state government for their operation. An estimated 13,000 Class III machines are operating in California without a compact.

Tribes argue that the Pala compact is too restrictive and would hurt gaming. The compact gives each tribe an allotment of 199 video gaming machines. Nongaming tribes can lease their machines to gaming tribes, but no tribe can operate more than 975 machines.

Yesterday, the Secretary of State announced that a ballot measure which would preserve Las Vegas-style Indian gaming had qualified for the November ballot. But also yesterday, the State Senate voted 21-10 to ratify the Pala compact.

California's four U.S. Attorneys have filed civil forfeiture suits to seize or shut down tribal slot machines.

Is California afraid of a little competition for its state-run lottery?

"It certainly seems that way," observed Hinkle. "Taking away the gaming machines will only serve to deprive these tribes of the only method of economic development that has ever worked on reservations."

Indian gaming is a $5 billion dollar industry nationwide, according to Gaming & Wagering Magazine. In San Diego County alone, tribal gaming has produced 5,000 jobs with a $22 million annual payroll, according to the National Indian Gaming Association.

"Prior to gaming, federal handouts were the primary source of income for most tribes," noted Hinkle. "Thanks to gaming, tribes have broken the cycle of welfare dependency."

Should the federal or state governments have any say in what Indians do on reservations?

"Absolutely not," Hinkle asserted. "Indian tribes are sovereign nations and have the right to use their property for whatever they choose, including gaming - free of government interference and regulation.

"Indian tribes have a gun to their heads. If the government hauls off tribal slot machines, hardworking Indians who have struggled for economic independence will be forced back onto the welfare rolls - and you can bet on that."

The text of the resolution passed by the Libertarian Party of California follows:

WHEREAS the U.S. Constitution excludes American Indians both from being taxed by, and having elected representatives in, the federal government of the United States; and
WHEREAS American Indian tribes live on property which is not rightfully under the jurisdiction of any government of the United States; and
WHEREAS American Indian tribes are, we believe, correct in asserting that they are sovereign and not subject to the laws of any government of the United States while on American Indian lands; and
WHEREAS the American Indian tribes have paradoxically traded away the practical reality of their sovereignty in exchange for common material benefits from the United States federal government including health, education, and welfare benefits "forever":
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the Libertarian Party of California supports full and unrestricted rights of American Indian tribes to use their own property for any and all peaceful purposes of their choosing (including gaming or gambling) "forever";
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, as rights must always be balanced by responsibilities, the Libertarian Party of California supports a discontinuance of all federal and state health, education, and welfare benefits to Indian tribes "forever";
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that, in order to bring meaning and specificity to these resolutions, the Libertarian Party of California calls for: a) repeal of all California state laws which subsidize or regulate American Indian tribes, and b) an end to activities of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs within the borders of the State of California.