The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns the Foxwoods Resort Casino in southeastern Connecticut, is among federally recognized tribes that, although considered “sovereign nations,” are seeking increased revenues through grants from the U.S. government.
According to the Associated Press, the once billion-dollar Pequot casino empire has, in the past, distributed stipends of more than $100,000 annually to adult tribe members. Now, however, the Pequots join other gaming tribes, including nearby rival casino Mohegan Sun, in the pursuit of more federal aid. The pattern is getting the attention of those who opposed the law that allowed Indian tribes to develop casinos, since the law was promoted as one that would assist tribes in becoming financially self-reliant.
In 1988, Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) which authorized casino gambling on Indian reservations and provided a regulatory and oversight framework for the industry in the form of the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC). The purpose of the law was to allow a means for tribes to become self-sufficient in developing their own economies.
‘‘The whole purpose of the 1988 law which authorized Indian casinos was to help federally-recognized tribes raise money to run their governments by building casinos on their reservations,’’ said Robert Steele, a former Connecticut Congressman. ‘‘I would argue strongly that federal money was meant for struggling tribes. Certainly the Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohegans couldn’t under any circumstances be put in that category.’’
Nevertheless, as long as they have federal recognition, the tribes that own casinos are eligible for the same federal grants that are awarded to larger tribes in the western region of the U.S. where poverty and unemployment have been continually widespread. The federal grants, which do not require repayment, help tribes pay for health screenings, road maintenance, and environment preservation.
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation spokesman Bill Satti said that his tribe “is proud of the work they do with the use of federal funds when it comes to assisting the region and fellow Native Americans.” Satti added that the federal funds have been used to support the tribe’s medical clinic and to repair roadways. Continue reading via Breitbart...