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No Peace Offering Here 

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Tuesday, Jul 3 2007
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No Peace Offering Here

Though the California Nations Indian Gaming Association does not take positions on the internal matters of any tribal government, we found several objectionable passages in the article “Tribal Purge” [June 15–21]. Since Marc Cooper has had an extensive history dealing with various world cultures, it is puzzling that he would employ stereotypical rhetoric in describing California Indians in his latest column. Describing a meeting between tribal leaders (“Indian chiefs,” to use Mr. Cooper’s phrase) and California Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, Mr. Cooper actually had the audacity to say that they had a “peace-offering lunch” and “smoked the pipe,” an apparent reference to peace pipes. Not only is this culturally incorrect, as California tribes never smoked “peace pipes” (tobacco was introduced in California by Europeans), it is also an implicit culturally demeaning stereotype.

Why would the L.A. Weekly condone this kind of blatant race-baiting language for American Indians while they would surely condemn similar slurs against other ethnic groups? Also, among Mr. Cooper’s insults are tired references to the old West, such as “unreported invasion of Indian holdings by a Palm Springs cattle-rustling gang.” Adding insult to injury, Mr. Cooper also employs unwarranted mafia references in describing a tribe as participating in a “Sopranos-like affair.” This erroneously implies that tribal gaming is somehow mafia-­infiltrated. Perhaps if Mr. Cooper had read the papers recently he would have noticed that tribal gaming commissions played a pivotal role in breaking up a crime ring that targeted casinos. We implore Mr. Cooper to choose his words more wisely next time.Anthony MirandaCalifornia Nations Indian Gaming Association

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It’s unfortunate that columnist Marc Cooper didn’t bother to contact us before writing his column on tribal compacts and attacking Democrats in the state Legislature. Had he done the basic job of a journalist to confirm information he received in the course of his “reporting,” he would have been provided with facts instead of the hearsay that was printed in the L.A. Weekly. The tribal compacts were negotiated between the governor and the tribes. They are sent to the Legislature for an up-or-down vote on ratification. The Assembly refused to ratify them last year because of a variety of concerns, including their labor provisions.

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Send letters to L.A. Weekly, P.O. Box 4315, L.A., CA 90078. Or fax us at (323) 465-3220. Or e-mail us at letters@laweekly.com. Letters, which must be typewritten and include a daytime telephone number for verification, may be edited for purposes of space or clarity.

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