Charlie Meadows thinks American Indian sovereignty should end. As president of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee, Charlie publicly denounces Indian sovereignty as antiquated, inappropriate, and inimical to all parties concerned. Meadows is a devoted Christian, and a zealous American patriot. He is also a personal friend of mine.
I, too, am an American patriot and a deep believer in the Scriptures. I am also a Comanche Indian and believe whole-heartedly in Indian sovereignty. How can Charlie and I regularly meet together for lunch?
We both agree that modern, politically engineered multiculturalism is a dreadful influence in America, because it intentionally obfuscates the concept of being American. It is designed to erase the Judeo-Christian ideology upon which American society was based. We agree that a nation, by definition, is a group of people who basically share the same language, borders, and faith.
But Charlie thinks Indian nations have no place in America, because they represent “a nation within a nation”’ Charlie thinks the presence of sovereign Indian nations within America undermines American sovereignty.
At the November 10 OCPAC meeting, Charlie showed a video of John F. McManus speaking on American sovereignty. (McManus, president of the John Birch Society, has also spoken live at Charlie’s OCPAC luncheons here in Oklahoma City, and I’ve talked personally with McManus.) McManus is against the erosion of American sovereignty, and Charlie showed this particular video as an introduction to his own diatribe against Indian sovereignty within the United States.
But I said to Charlie, “America is the nation that was set up within Indian nations! You are the visitor. We allowed you your nation. How can you oppose ours?”
But Charlie continues to publish articles against Indian sovereignty. His latest appears in the Oklahoma Constitution: “Will Voters Turn Oklahoma into a Second-Rate Gambling Mecca?” Charlie thinks that through Indian casinos, the tribes will become “the most powerful entity in the state.”
State Question 712, the State-Tribal Gaming Act, did in fact pass (with 59.47 percent of the vote), and we shall see if Charlie’s prophecy comes true. But, if it does, it won’t be due to Indian sovereignty, but to non-Indian people’s propensity to vice.
I disagree with Charlie. To blame Indians for the fact that the non-Indian population wants to gamble is mistaken. To fault Indians for benefiting from the dubious propensities of the greater population is simply blaming Indians for the white man’s weaknesses. This is an overreach in the application of moral principle. This is more “liberal” than Liberal.
If white people cannot agree whether gambling is a vice, whether it is actually beneficial to the state, then let’s blame the politicians, and above all, the clergy. Why blame the Indians? If people like Charlie denounce gambling and Indian sovereignty, then let them work for legislation to make it illegal for a non-Indian to enter an Indian casino without a passport and a tariff.
Has everyone forgotten the word “boycott?” If you object to tax-free Indian businesses, then don’t shop at their stores or gas stations, and don’t go to their casinos. Have white people lost all concept of free-will?
To Charlie, Indian sovereignty creates an irresistible temptation to American society. Indian sovereignty, which provides that horrid tax-free casino, is a lethal attraction for the white man’s self-indulgence, and therefore Indian sovereignty itself is an enemy of American society.
So it’s come full circle: the white man used alcohol to subjugate the Indian; and now the Indian is using gambling to become “the most powerful entity in the state,” according to Charlie.
But Indian sovereignty has nothing to do with it. Sovereignty is not the issue, but self-control. Charlie is indeed a patriot, but he is writing human nature off as incorrigibly weak, as if the public is not responsible for its behavior. Therefore, Charlie seeks legislation that will guide the people into better values and more positive behavior.
I, too, denounce the crime and corruption that comes with any casino. I continually warn Indians against the social hazards of the gambling racket. Human nature is indeed a problem. As an American Indian patriot, the last thing I want to see is Indians become a detrimental element in American society. Instead, I want to see Indians lead out in the most positive example in the country.
That example would be precisely the self-control and devotion to community welfare so epitomical of the once proud Indian warrior. But the current American Indian image in the country is the opposite: chronic selfish greed. Yet it’s because of the casino, not sovereignty.