On of the most tragic episodes in American History has been that of the Indians in both North and South America. In 1519, Hernando Cortez led a Spanish army into the Incan Empire established in Mexico. The explorer had just recovered from a bout with syphilis. The Incans, according to the letters Cortez wrote, believed that he was "The Great White" (Quetzalcoatl) God whose return was expected, and so they yielded to both plundering and genocide. From there, both Portugal (in Brazil) and Spain extended their holdings throughout South America.
Native populations were enslaved to work the the European mines and plantations. The Jesuits and forced conversions to Catholicism followed (under threat of death).
In North America it was the French and English that subdued the Native populations. Spain had conquered Florida and California along with other territories that bordered Mexico. Surprisingly, European diseases are what killed the vast majority of Native Americans. An estimated 90% of native populations were wiped out before 1800.
I served a mission in Uruguay (South America) for 2 years and was amazed to learn that the entire Native population had been wiped out! Today, the country is predominantly white European with some African ancestry as well.
In the North, Native populations were also wiped out by malaria when they were impressed into slavery by the rice plantation owners along the Atlantic. There are also examples of British soldiers giving small-pox laden blankets to tribes allied with the French during the French and Indian war.
Today, the majority of what is left of the proud Indian Nations of North America reside on reservations. Today, alcohol is a far greater killer than traditional disease:
"Drinking is a factor in 75 percent of Indian deaths and 80 percent of suicides, according to the IHS.
Of the 10 leading causes of death among Indians, alcohol is directly implicated in four: cirrhosis, homicide, suicide and accidents.
In 1986, alcohol abuse was directly related to 52 deaths per 100,000 Indians, compared to 7.8 deaths for non-Indians and 13 deaths for other non-whites." (source)
Poverty is another major issue among Indians residing in the United States. In spite of the large financial boon that the Indian casinos were supposed to bring in, an estimated 27% of American Indian families were living in poverty in 2003. A very modest improvement of 5% since 1987.
Indian Casino gambling is one of the greatest financial frauds to be perpetrated against all races in recorded history. Gambling, in and of itself is a social evil that begets other evils. Fraud, narcotics, prostitution, embezzlement, theft, burglary and even violent crimes. I quote from the following nationwide study of every county in America with a casino:
...crime didn't budge when a casino began operating -- at least at first. Crime began to rise after the first year, slowly at first and then more quickly, until it had far surpassed what it would have been if the casino had never opened. By the fifth year of operation, robberies were up 136 percent; aggravated assaults, 91 percent; auto theft, 78 percent; burglary, 50 percent; larceny, 38 percent; and rape, 21 percent. " (source)
The history of Indian Casinos in the U.S. is an interesting one. It began in the 1970's when the Supreme Court ruled that the States do not have the right to tax Indians on Reservations and that they do not have the power to regulate any activity on Indian lands. As a result of this ruling, Some Indian tribes began to open up "bingo halls" in the U.S.
"In 1988 Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) (signed by President Ronald Reagan) which kept tribal sovereignty to create casino like halls, but the states and Indians must be in Tribal-State compacts and the federal government has the power to regulate the gaming... When President Reagan signed the IGRA, Indian gaming revenue skyrocketed from $100 million in 1988 to $16.7 billion in 2006. Following the IGRA, the National Indian Gaming Commission was created as a federal agency in 1988 to regulate high-stakes Indian gaming."
Placing all regulatory issues over Indian Casino Gambling in the hands of the Federal government has only increased the size of the gambling industry in the United States. One of the biggest myths is that these massive operations are owned by Indians. In reality, most of the industry was started by outside investors who found partnerships in Washington and on the Reservations.
Even big corporations were attracted to Indian Gaming. Many of them got in bed with the greatest and most corrupt Indian Gambling lobbyist of our time, Jack Abramoff.
One example is Farmers Insurance Group. Suffering from huge investment losses, the company was looking for "alternatives". Unbeknownst to me at the time, I unwittingly brought Farmers together with Abramoff Allies, Joseph and Chris Cannon of Utah. I had approached Cannon through his chief of staff, David Safavian to help me in my war against the Farmers Management team.
Congressman Chris Cannon apparently formed a partnership with Farmers to both suppress me and get into the lucrative Indian Gambling business. In fact, in one year, Farmers emptied out its entire PAC coffers to donate to Abramoff politicians (including Cannon) and his Special Interest Groups.
Looking at Abramoff and Joe Cannon's lobbying activities would surprise most Americans into realizing who the real "investors" in Indian Casino Gambling truly are. As would a careful study of Chris Cannon's unexplained liquidation of a 1.3 million dollar campaign debt; and ability to triple and even quadruple the amount of money flowing into his campaign coffers.
Yet, both Joseph and Christopher Cannon hold themselves out Mormon stalwarts and maintain their vast influence over the State of Utah and its politics.
Next: More on Indian Casino Gambling and Political Corruption.