Monday, December 15, 2008

A few words on a not-so-old injustice...

...mentioned in yesterday's Chron:

LIVINGSTON — Preschoolers on the Alabama-Coushatta reservation play beneath a leaky roof and beside aging emergency exits. Tribal members who seek treatment for diabetes and cancer at the nearby health clinic share the facetious warning, "Don't get sick after June" — money may run out for the year.
A tourist train once lured visitors and their dollars to the reservation but today sits idle in its tunnel, weeds choking the tracks. A once-grand outdoor amphitheater is falling apart.
These sad conditions worry Alabama-Coushatta leaders, but they say the American Indian tribe's history is proud and its destiny is hopeful. What they want now is the Legislature to help them relaunch a shuttered casino that drew big-spending gamblers to their remote East Texas land.
"In the end we'll be successful. It's just not easy," said tribal council chairman Carlos Bullock, who is working with the Tigua tribe of El Paso to get an Indian casino bill passed when lawmakers convene in January. Both tribes' casinos were closed in 2002 by court orders sought by then-Attorney General John Cornyn.

I remember when all of that was going on, that is, when Cornyn was in the process of shutting down the casinos, I saw a bumper sticker that had on it a dead-nuts-on summation of the absurdity of the situation:
"Since Texas is not a gambling state, I play the lottery and eight-liners and go to the dog track. Support economic self-reliance for the Alabama-Coushatta of Texas."
I always thought the Alabama-Coushatta and the Tigua tribes got the short end of the stick as far as the gambling laws went. Maybe the casinos did run afoul of the law, but I don't understand why the Texas Legislature basically left the Indians twisting in the wind like they did. From everything I've heard about the casinos they seemed to be a pretty lucrative enterprise for the Indians, bringing their communities jobs and cash. Further down in the story it's mentioned that the Tiguas brought in $60 million a year, and that the Alabama-Coushatta casino brought in $1 million each month. I don't know how something like that will work out in today's economy, but I hope the Texas Legislature does right by them this time and that it works out for them.