Donald Trump's long and strained relationship with Indian gaming

Republican presidential candidate in Washington, D.C. Photo from Facebook

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has never been known as a friend to Indian Country as his tortured dealings in the tribal gaming industry attest.

The Financial Times offers a rundown of the real estate mogul's negative record. From attacking the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation as illegitimate in the 1990s to labeling the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe as crooks in the 2000s, his goal was to protect his own gaming empire, which eventually collapsed.

“Atlantic City made a lot of money in the 1980s being the only game in town,” David Schwartz, a former Trump employee, told the Times. “When you have more convenient places open up, that’s when Atlantic City ran into trouble.”

Even when Trump tried to make nice with tribes, his efforts failed. The Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians ended its relationship with the mogul for just $6 million, far less than he anticipated.

“That was some real ‘Art of the Deal’ stuff, wasn’t it?” Victor Rocha, the owner of, told The Palm Springs Desert Sun “They figured out pretty quickly that this guy was not what he said he was, and they could do a better job. And they have.”

Trump also tried to schmooze his way into a deal with the Cowlitz Tribe in Washington. But he didn't make a favorable impression there.

"Trump told some people they didn’t look like Indians. That’s something Native Americans who aren’t full-blooded have to deal with everyday," council member Dave Barnett told The Columbian, referring to the testimony he gave to the House Subcommittee on Native American Affairs on October 5, 1993.

If Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, wins the presidency, he will hold considerable sway over the $28.5 billion and growing tribal casino industry. He would be responsible for appointing the leaders of the National Indian Gaming Commission and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the two agencies with control over gaming compacts, land-into-trust applications and other regulations.

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US presidential campaign: Trump’s casino war (The Financial Times 5/19)

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