LETTER: Gaming is not a solution

To the editor:

On March 17, Hopi Tribal Action Item (AI #048?2008) was brought up in the Hopi Tribal Council Chamber. If passed, this would have allowed the Hopi Tribal Chairman to enter into a gaming compact with the state of Arizona to lease our allocation of Hopi slot machines. In essence, we would have sacrificed our tribal sovereignty and went against the wishes of the Hopi people who do not want gaming on two previous occasions.

The Hopi Tribal Chairman was asked to go to villages to explain his intentions, but has thus far failed to do so, except for his staff members. We want to hear from the tribal chairman himself, not his staff. Gaming is gaming no matter if you lease your machines or not. They might not be on our tribal lands, but like alcohol we are preying on other people's addictions and social discontent.

I realize that the Hopi Tribe is facing financial hardships due to the shutdown of the Mojave Generating Station. But, in reality, the state of Arizona was receiving more money in taxes than the Hopi Tribe did in royalties. We have a lot of natural resources on our reservation but unless we manage them ourselves we will continue to get the short end of the stick. That means we need to have complete control over what we have in order to got the full value of what we produce. If the Hopi Tribe would go to court and show that the state of Arizona's tax was causing undue economic hardship, the tribe may have had the power to stop the state from having the ability to tax our resources.

Until we find self?empowerment from forming consensus we will continue to have the same status quo as in past and the present administrations. If we truly want to change our government then we need to organize and keep applying pressure until we see change taking place. I would like to see more open debates such as that of gaming and natural resource development on Hopi in terms on educating our Hopi people and laying out some viable options.

Michael Kotutwa Johnson

UA Ph.D. student

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