Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law - University of Tulsa College of Law
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Opinion
Opinion: NMAI a testament to power of Natives


"That Indians now have their own museum on America's front lawn measures how much has changed in recent decades. Long presumed a vanishing race, Indians have not only survived but also possess greater clout than ever before. The showy protests of the American Indian Movement and other radical Indian groups during the Vietnam War years, such as the 19-month occupation of Alcatraz Island from 1969 to 1971, brought the injustices suffered by Native Americans into the spotlight. Activists persuaded the federal government to pass laws forcing museums to give back Indian bone collections over the angry objections of some archeologists.

But the museum is also a testament to the power of casino money. In the old days, Ishi's Yahi people loved to play gambling games with sticks. Now California Indians rake in more than $2 billion a year from their slots, video poker machines and blackjack tables.

The Museum of the American Indian would not have happened without what some pundits have called the "new buffalo" of casino cash. The Mashantucket Pequot in Connecticut run Foxwoods, the world's largest gambling resort. They alone donated $10 million to the museum. Newly wealthy tribes in California and elsewhere have contributed heavily to congressional campaigns. These donations helped cement support for the additional federal money needed to get the museum built."

Get the Story:
Orin Starn: Wowi in Washington (The Los Angeles Times 10/10)
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Relevant Links:
National Museum of the American Indian - http://www.nmai.si.edu

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