Colville Chair: Ads unfair to Washington tribes
"Some recent political advertisements targeting Gov. Chris Gregoire may have missed their mark. The admen attempted to take a shot at the governor, but instead struck Indian people. Whether or not these slick television spots hurt Gov. Gregoire’s chances for re-election, they certainly encourage and perpetuate racist stereotypes and false notions about Indians.

For the record, the ads are untrue and misleading. They attempt to link campaign contributions to Indian gaming through implication and innuendo, because the admen don’t have the facts on their side. Instead they use clever scripts and slick production to shore up their message, however untrue. There is no evidence that Washington state lost “hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue” through Indian gaming negotiations. Unfortunately, overblown campaign rhetoric is as common as gossip these days—and just as unreliable.

What is more troubling to me, however, is the cynical appeal to racism, the not-so-subtle underlying message that all Indians have grown rich from casino revenues. The actors play Indians as insulting caricatures, with pony tails, braids, bolo ties, and earrings to telegraph their “heritage,” and tailored suits and a pickup load of money to telegraph their “wealth.” These stereotypes are not just wrong, but hurtful. Life on the Colville Reservation is nothing like these advertisements suggest. Our tribal government struggles to provide basic services for the people, just as other governments do. Our people endure inadequate health care, inadequate housing, and inadequate transportation systems. Our children suffer from limited educational opportunities. On nearly every measure of “quality of life,” we fall far short of the national average."

Get the Story:
Jeanne Jerred: Admen owe tribes an apology (The Wenatchee World 10/8)

Related Stories:
Editorial: Attack on Washington compacts absurd (9/15)
Editorial: Tribes the latest scapegoat in Washington (9/9)
Washington governor slams anti-gaming ad as racist (8/7)