A high-stakes gamble by Native American tribes is being waged far from their Indian casinos. The game is being played in courtrooms all across California.
The latest power grab by the Agua Caliente tribe is a federal lawsuit that would allow the tribe to stop paying certain taxes to Riverside County. The taxes amount to $29 million a year, according to a county audit — money used for schools, police, fire and roads.
It is the latest volley in an escalating war between local governments and tribes, who seem to feel that their status as sovereign nations allows them to avoid taxes, clean air regulations, development limits and even the notion that water belongs to the public.
Yes, Native Americans were badly mistreated in history. But today is a different story thanks to casino revenues topping $7 billion a year in California and northern Nevada. OP: NOW, it's TRIBES that are mistreating their own people.
A Desert Sun investigation by reporter Keith Matheny last year found the state’s five largest tribes spent more than $4.8 million over a two-year period to lobby state officials in Sacramento, and that the Agua Caliente and Morongo tribes — along with two others — have spent nearly $250 million on politics since 2000.
Noted California journalist Joe Mathews said of the tribes, “They are getting the protection of a monopoly, sanctioned by the federal government and formalized by the states.”
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