Reflections from the Ah­nish­i­nah­bæójib­way (We, the People)

February 16, 1994

The October-November, 1993 issue of International Gaming & Wagering Business had a front-page article by Matt Connor, “Corruption on the reservation: Cause for concern?”  In this article, White Earth enrollee Erma Vizenor is described as “infuriated at her tribal administrator,” because $12 million dollars worth of funds for developing the Shooting Star Casino came from the White Earth Land Settlement Act.  She says that this money rightfully belongs to the White Earth people, and is quoted, “It is almost impossible to get [accountability] because the tribe is insulated by sovereign immunity.”

The same article discusses casino security, referring to Potawatomi security director Roger Miller talking about sending confidential information back and forth from tribe to tribe, “Our attorneys told us that as sovereign peoples we could transfer that type of information without being liable for the types of penalties other organizations might be.  For our own protection, we’re allowed to do that.”  Just who are the “sovereign peoples” Miller is talking about?

Matt Connor writes, in the same article, about the gaming contracts, “And once the contract is approved, it’s extremely difficult to remove a management team who’s signed on the dotted line.  Connor quotes “Chip” Wadena as saying, “My word is my bond.”  Why are some White Earth people complaining about the casino?  Chip gave you his word!  Matt Connor also quotes Mystic Lake Vice President of Planning and Development, Allene Ross, “Once the contract’s approved and whatnot, tribes have no legal remedies.”  Now, get this, folks, once the Bureau of Indian Affairs approves the contracts, as trustee for their legally incompetent Indian wards, there are only illusions of Indian sovereignty, and the “sovereignty” that makes it impossible to get information, belongs to the Secretary of the Interior.

Ever since the Treaties, White intermediaries have been taking the lion’s share: they take part of it as brokers, and then they take the rest under trusteeship.  At the Treaties, the Indian Traders were collecting big bucks on what they called “depredations.”  Now, the White media are molding public opinion, in a diversionary tactic that “organized crime” might be involved with Indian Gaming.  Don’t worry about the Mafia moving onto the Reservations—organized crime has been involved since the European Whites and Indians invaded Ahnishinahbæótjibway land.  The treaties are analogous to a giant garage sale, giving away land and resources that never belonged to either one of them.  The concerned public doesn’t need to get overly optimistic, and look for a different set of criminals or a change in their behavior.


Instead of complaining, there are a number of ways that anybody can find out what’s happening with the Indian Casinos:

In the business section of the February 15, 1994 Minneapolis Star Tribune, under Consolidated Stock Listings, Grand Casinos (GrdCasn s) was listed under the G’s as a National Over-the-Counter stock with a price-to-earnings ratio of 34, 3064 shares traded, and a closing price of $26.50 per share—stock prices are listed Tuesday through Saturday in the Business Section.  On January 26, the price was listed as 27 5/8, which means twenty-seven dollars and 62 and a half cents, according to a wise old sage I asked.  This elderly gentleman, who understands the wheeling and dealing of the stock and bond markets, told me that the 5/8 comes from the Spaniard’s plunder of Aboriginal Indigenous peoples’ gold.  The Spanish used a gold coin called the Real, and to make change, they cut it up into eight pieces.  This is where “two bits” comes from, and this old European plunder currency is still quoted in the stock market every day.

I was also told that stocks are usually sold in blocks of 100.  This the message he gave me for you White Earth people: Legally incorporate a stock-buying co-operative, and keep accurate records.  If a hundred people get together, for about $30. each (stock price plus stockbroker’s “points”), you will be part owner on both sides, and the Casino will send you quarterly or annual reports, probably on expensive glossy paper with four-color printing.  Stockholders also can attend stockholder’s meetings (according to the old sage, often held in Delaware, Texas or Nevada, since these states have bigger loopholes in their business laws and tax shelters), and vote on the people who are running the company.  If a hundred Indians show up, with one share of stock each, at the next stockholder’s meeting, Chip Wadena will be very surprised to find out he has a new boss.  Don’t blame me, I’m not a rabble rouser.

Anybody who can get to the library can also find information on any company, including Grand Casinos and Gaming World International, in such reference books as Standard and Poor’s, Dun and Bradstreet, and many others to which a friendly librarian can direct you.

Companies which sell stock to the public must register with the Securities Exchange Commission—and some of the information they file is public information.  All companies are incorporated, and their articles of incorporation, and owners of record, are public information.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has copies of all of the contracts with Gambling Management Companies—and if the B.I.A. is doing its job, they also have a file of the information they found when they investigated the company before approving the contract.  This is public information, and the Bureau is legally obliged to answer Freedom of Information Act letters.

I gave you all the good news.  Now, the bad news is that Indians are under trusteeship, and are wards of the Government governed by Chief Jim Crow and his squaw A-par-theid.  Indians don’t have any legal rights, and I suppose that the U.S. Government can take away any stocks an Indian buys, under trusteeship, and if an Indian acts too uppity, remember that the U.S. Government can take away your Indian identity, with one stroke of the pen.


Momentum is gathering for the elections which will be held in May at Red Lake.  Some of the candidates are starting to politick, and the loggers are busy making stumps, so everybody will have a choice of stumps of their very own, when the time comes for stump speeches.

After every election, since the Indian Reorganization Act brought Democracy onto Red Lake, there has been a petition circulated, contesting the election.  (What these petitions really do, is authenticate the crooked political system that the Bureau put in here.)  There has been one dissident, and a few malcontents, who have spent thirty years trying to get Chairman-for-Life Roger Jourdain out of office with petitions.  Now, this dissident and his malcontents have good jobs inside the system.  The Florscheim’s on the other foot, and the former “outsiders” are the ones trying to keep the Chairman-for-Life from getting his job back.  During his tenure, Roger Jourdain made it tough for other candidates to run against him—but some of the laws that he passed are boomeranging back on him, close enough to the ground that they might hit him where it hurts.  One of Roger’s own laws, that he now has to live under, is that a candidate for Tribal Office has to live on the Reservation for a year.  Roger has a trailer in Redby, but the New Chairman, Butch Brun, won’t hook up his water or his electricity.

The dissidents and the malcontents could get ahead of the game, and start circulating their petitions now.  The Bureau of Indian Affairs has already had a closed-door election, and using proxy votes under trusteeship, the B.I.A. has already decided who won the election—the new Tribal Directories are probably at the printer’s now, so they can be passed out the day after the elections.


In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, words we used to hear quite often were “sell-out” and “apple.”  Now, we don’t hear these seemingly obsolete words anymore, because the people who were hollering “sell-out” the loudest, now have well-paying jobs as professional apples.  Years ago, you weren’t a militant until you could use the word “sell-out” as a part of your vocabulary.  A Real Militant Indian wore sunglasses, cowboy boots, braids, and walked kind of bowlegged down the street, practicing how to say “sell-out” with a condescending sneer.  Hmmm, how times change.

 My telephone number is (218) 679-2382 and my mailing address is P.O. Box 484, Bemidji, MN 56601.


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