False notion of sovereignty: "Wampum: How Indian Tribes, the Mafia, and an Inattentive Congress Invented Indian Gaming and Created a $28-Billion Gambling Empire"
Letter: False notion of sovereignty
Re: County warns of potential land annexation by Swinomish" (A1, Dec. 3)
The cliche "give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile" applies to Skagit County leadership in their dealings with the Swinomish tribe. The commissioners' decision not to challenge the tribe in 2014 when 941 Shelter Bay properties were stricken from county tax rolls after a dubious "tax advisory" was issued by the Washington Department of Revenue has emboldened the tribe to pursue further self-serving objectives at the expense of all Skagit County residents.
County leadership must resist this tribal action vigorously and at whatever cost. In his recent book, "Wampum: How Indian Tribes, the Mafia, and an Inattentive Congress Invented Indian Gaming and Created a $28-Billion Gambling Empire," attorney and Indian affairs expert Donald Mitchell recounts how the concept of "inherent tribal sovereignty" was more or less created "out of thin air" by Felix Cohen, a young New York attorney employed by the Department of Interior, and never validated by act of Congress that held statutory power over tribal authority. Mitchell states "....the doctrine of inherent tribal sovereignty is a sophistry" and goes on to state "Today, tribal leaders are adamant that their tribes and the United States government are, and have always been, co-equal sovereigns. But that is mythology, masquerading as history."
This false notion of tribal sovereignty, once accepted without challenge by the politicians and courts, opened the door to the development of what has become a massive Indian gambling enterprise, first through the expansion of tax-free cigarette trade, then bingo parlors and eventually full-fledged Las Vegas style casinos and the wide-spread corruption that follows.
As the mantra states, one only has to "follow the money" and take note how it is spent.