The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Saturday, July 24, 2004

Arnie heading for Little Big Horn?

It's not unknown for foreigners to make fun of the many antiquated quirks of British constutional practice: the pantomime at the State Opening of Parliament, for instance, where Black Rod, sent to summon the Commons to hear the Queen's Speech, finds the door shut in his face. What's up with that, dude? Bummer...

Hard to think of any such nonsense, though, which comes close in sheer monumental idiocy to the notion of Indian tribal sovereignty in the US. Established back in the days when slavery was lawful - and catered for in the Constitution - and many Indians lived genuinely free of US control, the sovereignty regime was, for reasons I'm not clear about, not altered when the independent tribes were crushed and their remnants herded into reservations.

Perhaps the thought was that the Indians had been so thoroughly beaten that the hassle was not worth the candle [1]; or that the separateness of the tribes inherent in the notion of sovereignty was worth retaining as diluting the responsibility of the Federal government for Indian welfare [2].

Coming up to date, Governor Schwarzenegger, who was just now trumpeting a deal with some of his gaming tribes (June 22), is facing two Propositions in November's elections, one supported by dissident tribes, the other by commercial gambling interests (San Francisco Chronicle July 24). The dissidents have amassed $17 million in campaign funds; Arnie has allocated $50,000 to campaign against them.

Last time I looked, around 70% of Californians polled supported Indian gaming.

  1. I'm not clear whether a constitutional amendment would have been needed.

  2. For links to the history of US-Indian relations, my October 16 2003 piece.

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