Season of Persuasion

Generic happy brochure people

As voting season approaches I’m acutely aware of efforts to persuade me.

So when I received a colored brochure in the mail yesterday I quickly scanned the cover for the key message.

It looked like an ad for a new mall. Several tag lines appeal to Middle Class values:
For thousands of jobs.
For our schools.
For a community.
For Oregon.

Of course I am for jobs, schools, community and Oregon.

Read more carefully through the colored pages, flip past the engaging, happy photos. They remind me of stock pictures you can buy online that show generic models for your hospital or school newsletter.

The brochure depicts smiling Anglo workers, parents and children—and one Asian (perhaps)–steeped in fun and commerce.

Turns out the happy-faced citizens need my vote. A vote in favor of The Grange.

What’s The Grange?

You need to read carefully because the brochure is oblique. It calls The Grange “an exciting destination” with millions of dollars for schools and services.

But what is it?

The brochure is designed to equate schools and jobs with The Grange—a new development east of Portland at a former dog racing track dubbed Wood Village.

The new development will house shops, entertainment venues and a casino. A non-Indian casino.

But the village and casino need voter backing. Measure 82 changes Oregon’s constitution to allow—for the first time–non-tribal casinos, according to The Portland Tribune (August 21, 2012). Measure 83 authorizes the non-Indian casino to be located in Wood Village, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting (August 24, 2012).

Backers of the casino and the Wood Village community—which is designed to host a water park, shops, restaurants, etc.—have created a brochure that extols values of growth and progress while down-playing critical features: the prospect of a casino and changing state laws that affect the commercial provenance of Indian tribes.

I did a little research and discovered that Indian tribes are far from keen about the prospect of non-Indian run casinos. Not surprisingly, tribes fear that a casino so close to Portland will draw gamblers away from such popular venues as Grand Ronde’s Spirit Mountain Casino.

Truth is, I have a soft spot for the casino that has given more than $55 million toward community projects. In fact, I received a $20,000 grant to conduct research on public opinion related to tribal issues.

I’m wary of persuasive campaigns that masquerade as social programs. A ballot measure in 2010 asked Oregonians to allow non-Indian casinos.

It was defeated. Soundly.

[I found a stock photo after searching for “happy, smiling people” at Sunglass Consulting website


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in authenticity, ethics, framing, health, Indian, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Season of Persuasion

  1. grrlpup says:

    I’m glad to see your post. I got that same mailing and for started worrying for the first time that 82/83 might pass. It was that slick.

    I hope that voters will see past all the soft-pedalling about the “upscale” casino (is that code for white?) to realize that if the site was such a great development prospect for shops, water park, et cetera, those could go in without a freakin’ constitutional amendment.

    I hate so many things about this grab for private gain at the expense of public and tribal resources…not least that they named it The Grange like it’s a community association!


  2. Mary says:

    I’m really glad to learn more about this. We have been seeing TV commercials for The Grange down here and it really doesn’t make clear what or who it is. Thanks for the education.


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