"Now is the time to rethink Indian policy. While most Indian people have come to accept Indian policies, U.S. government policies toward Indian people continue to have mixed results. Perhaps the most effective changes in Indian economic development and welfare have come through initiatives pressed by the Indian people themselves.
The struggles to establish Indian gaming is probably the best example of self-help. Gaming, however, is often a mixed blessing. The benefits of gaming are distributed unevenly throughout Indian country. At the same time, many tribes have gained considerable access to capital and ability to invest in their communities, cultures and futures. Many Indian reservation communities are not so lucky, and find themselves significantly dependent on federal funds.
The achievement of effective tribal sovereignty will be possible whenever tribal communities have enough economic wherewithal to support community culture, goals and political ends. Continued federal support should continue as part of treaty agreements, legislation and as part of U.S. government.
The recent campaign statements of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain indicate that their advisors were well-acquainted with the economic and social needs of Indian country. The statements assured Indian country of continued federal program support and protection of tribal sovereignty. Both Clinton and Obama have very little first-hand knowledge about Indian issues and legal status, while McCain is a seasoned veteran of the Senate Indian Committees and has a significant Indian population in his state. Nevertheless, the campaign statements of all three major candidates presented a business-as-usual approach, which promises to maintain the status quo."
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