An illuminating article discusses Indian sovereignty and gambling at the White Mountain Apache Tribe, and defines sovereignty as equal to the entities of the federal government, individual states and tribes.
The article from this week’s Economist (a British publication) does a fine job of deconstructing sovereignty yet views tribes through a paternalistic lens, demonstrating that mainstream news still suffers Indian peoples as incompetent.
Judging from the way the article wraps up the discussion, self-governance has done more harm than good.
The article begins on good footing, offering three important components of sovereignty. The first is “inherent,” referring to a tribe’s intrinsic right to self-govern. The second is legal, stemming from the US government’s decisions to accord self-rule for Indian people (in 1934). And finally there’s de facto sovereignty.
The article interprets de facto sovereignty (which derives from the Latin for “in fact,” and refers to the actual state of affairs, rather than the theoretical) as the turning point for Indian self-rule, which occurred in 1975 with the Indian Self-Determination Act.
Only 37 years ago power was transferred from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to tribal governments.
The turning point, according to the article, enabled tribes to engage in gambling. The article then offers examples of how gambling and self-governance have harmed tribes (and, to be fair, also notes that some tribes have done well).
The writers point to the astronomical poverty and unemployment among Native Americans, despite the advent of gambling, then notes that “when it comes to governance, American Indians are still all too likely to make news of the wrong sort.”
For example, the Chukchansi of California “brawled” over tribal governance while the White Mountain Apache accused its leader of corruption.
In effect, the magazine uses instances of failure to illustrate the state of affairs in Indian Country.
And the photo chosen to complement the story? We see two tribal members in regalia, thus cementing the stereotype that you will find Indians clothed in beads and feathers.
See the article at http://www.economist.com/node/21552208