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Norm Blackburn
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Proposition 19
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Hawaii Revisited
 My earliest memory of Las Vegas was when I was about twelve years old. My mother and father drove with me from Los Angeles to attend the wedding of their best friends. 
     In those days Vegas was not much more than a wide place in the road with a few hotels. I think we stayed at El Rancho. The thing I remember most is a popular tune, “Little Brown Jug”. Over and over in my head I heard, “Ha, ha, ha, you and me. Little Brown Jug, do I love thee”.
     I think the hotel had a casino with a poker table and a roulette wheel. I know there were slot machines everywhere. I know that because I saw one-armed bandits as they were known in the gas station we visited as we left. Legal gambling in Southern California was limited to poker parlors in Gardena. I saw one once and it impressed me as a big room with lots of tables covered with green felt and people at each table smoking and being really quiet. Some churches had bingo games but that wasn’t considered real gambling.
     Things have changed in Las Vegas and in the gaming world. Gaming is the new euphemism for getting rid of your money as fast as you can. Now almost every county in California has an Indian casino. We voters gave the Indians permission to have limited gambling in a few limited areas. We did this because we felt guilty about taking Indian land away from the tribes way back when. Of course “we” weren’t there at the time. People like Custer and the railroads and the “white man” did it. But we are somehow still held responsible so we voted for gaming on Indian reservations.
     The Indians weren’t (and aren’t) stupid. As soon as they realized gaming was profitable, they looked around for land that might have been a “reservation” or burial ground or somehow connected to a tribe in the past. 
     My wife’s cousin cultivates a few acres in Alexander Valley in Sonoma County that once was a tribal area. The tribe sold the land years ago for the going price. Families have been raising crops there for several generations. The Rancherio Tribe wanted the land back about 30 years ago claiming they were cheated. The State of California finally gave them land elsewhere and some money. The Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians has built a casino on the hillside above the valley. Now as you gaze across lush vineyards you can see the huge casino with it’s larger parking structure and the area on which they want to build a hotel and convention center. The narrow road leading up to the casino is still two lanes.
     Now gambling has invaded the Internet. And the Indians are there too. Internet gambling is technically illegal in the United States but it is a billion dollar business. The gambling sites are located off shore. Some not so “off shore” if you remember that there is no ocean between Canada and us.
     60 Minutes had a piece on Internet gambling a few weeks ago. They traced a gambling computer server to a town in Canada. The town was located on an Indian reservation. When asked if their enterprise was against Canadian gambling laws the Indian spokesman replied, “ We are not Canadian. We are Indians residing in our own nation so not subject to Canadian law”. I wonder if the Canadian army will defend them if another Indian tribe decides to go for their scalps.
     I don’t mind if the Indians make a few dollars or euros or pesos off people who find it fun to gamble. I just think it is wrong that they claim special privileges for acts that occurred many years ago. I know that they were herded into out-of-the-way places and not allowed to vote or go to “white” schools. I know that the money they make on gaming is supposed to right that wrong. But I don’t see any Indian colleges or universities or hospitals or businesses out there. Maybe I need to go to Montana or Oklahoma to see the good works they are doing. I sure don’t see the revitalization of the Indian culture in San Diego or Alexander Valley.
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