No Peace Offering Here 

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Tuesday, Jul 3 2007

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.

Contrary to Cooper’s comments, Democrats are fighting tirelessly for “the little guys” — as well as women. The speaker is advancing legislation to provide affordable, quality health care for millions of Californians, raising the minimum wage, protecting against deep cuts to social programs and lowering gasoline prices. He also has a near-perfect record from organized labor, the Conservation Voters of California and consumer groups.

Steven MaviglioDeputy chief of staff to Speaker Fabian Núñez

For more on the unfolding tribal gaming story, see Cooper’s current column.

Pushing Out the PoorThe article fingering LAPD Chief Bratton for May 1 [“Bratton’s Mea Culpa Tour,” May 25–31] is okay as far as it goes, but it doesn’t situate the attack in its real context. It was not a failure of (lack of) training — it was a free hand given to the cops to attack a marginalized and criminalized population of immigrants who are currently under attack by the feds, the Minutemen and various politicos. The MacArthur Park attack fits right in to the context of the raids and sweeps and repressive “reforms” the demonstrators were protesting. The attack also falls within the framework of gentrification, making Los Angeles inhospitable for poor people of color. The mayor absented himself from town on the day of the rally and Bratton removed himself from the loop of responsibility because they don’t want their fingerprints on such a blatant act. But in practice, as evidenced by Villaraigosa’s phony grandstand play for a smaller bus-fare increase and Bratton’s sweeps in Skid Row, they are trying to move poor people out of the central city.

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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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