NCAI's Hall takes on Indian gaming report
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With his trademark cowboy hat in tow, a prominent tribal leader made an appearance on C-SPAN on Tuesday to discuss a controversial magazine report on Indian gaming.

Tex Hall, chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation of North Dakota and president of the National Congress of American Indians, spent about a half-hour on "Washington Journal" to talk about the the TIME report. The articles have sparked considerable debate and Hall came armed with statistics to refute claims that the $12 billion Indian gaming industry hasn't made a positive impact in Indian Country.

"It's helping tribes become self-sufficient like no other enterprise ever has or no other other federal project in the last 200 years has," Hall said.

Published in two parts in TIME's December 16 and December 23 issues, the report points to a small number of tribes that make a considerable amount of money. "The large majority of Indian people do no benefit from Indian casinos," said Donald Barlett, one of the authors, in a phone interview with C-SPAN.

But Hall said that wasn't the case in North Dakota. He said his tribe's casino employs more than 400, 90 percent of whom are Native American or tribal members.

"My CEO of my tribal government was a waiter on the tables 10 years ago before he started college," he said. "He now has a master's degree because of our gaming proceeds."

The article also said tribal casinos are not well regulated. The authors point to the lack of manpower at the National Indian Gaming Commission, the federal agency charged with overseeing nearly 300 operations in more than two dozen states.

Hall, however, said the report left out key details. No only is the NIGC involved, he said, states and tribal governments regulate Indian gaming.

"Tribes are triply regulated," he said of the $212 million spent to make sure tribal casinos are within the law. "No other industry in gaming is triply regulated."

Most of the callers agreed with Hall's assessments. "I would think that there's a lot of jealousy in this mix," said one. "These people ought to wake up and quit trying to knock down someone who's succeeding," said another.

Others had specific complaints about problems in their neck of the woods. One from Washington said the Snoqualmie Tribe was being "exploited" by non-Indians while another was angry about a road being built to a casino in northern California.

After the show, Hall rejoined tribal leaders at a meeting on trust reform also taking place in Washington, D.C. "He did a great job," said Jackie Johnson, executive director of NCAI. "He hit a home run."

Hall was the first tribal leader to appear on a television or cable network to respond to the article. On Monday night, CNN's "NewsNight" hosted the two authors but didn't provide a Indian perspective. Tribal leaders who watched the program, however, said the show's host, Aaron Brown, challenged the writers to prove themselves.

Ron Allen, chairman of the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe of Washington, was on a radio program with the authors on Monday. It was broadcast in the Seattle and Pacific Northwest area.

Watch the Show:
Washington Journal (C-SPAN 12/17)

CNN Transcript:
NewsNight [Indian gaming near end of show] (CNN 12/16)

TIME Report:
Part 1: Wheel of Misfortune | Part 2: Playing the Political Slots

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