Saturday, April 5, 2008


I thought I would share this speech with you. I will continue the story on Economics a little later.

Slot bill speech for House Debate
April 2008

Thank you Mr. Speaker, Men and Women of the House.
I will have been in this body as the Penobscot Nation Representative for ten years at the end of this session. People ask me lately “How’s it going?” I tell them it’s going the same as ever. I can pull out a speech I used a decade ago and it would be just as on target now as it was then.
Things haven’t changed much for us in ten years.

This year there is something that has changed and changed drastically. It is the state of the economy. The economy is taking a hit on the national level and more to the point right here at home.

This legislature has spent this last week making painful choices about which programs are going to be cut and what programs and services are going to be eliminated. We’re talking about real families and real people. My people are Maine citizens, we have families that are being effected and will be effected by these decisions and this failing economy. We have hopes and dreams just as you and your children do. Whatever happens to the State of Maine happens to us. This is our home.

Today it is more important then ever that we be given the economic tools to not only compete but to survive. The Penobscot Nation has agreed to this amendment to lower the number of slot machines to 100 and to use them only on Bingo weekends allowed by law. We have agreed even though our profits will be a lot less than if we had 400 machines and our payout to other hurting organizations will be a lot less.

Some legislators have said to me the amendment is just enough to keep you at where you were before Hollywood slots entered the picture. With this number of slots you should be able to keep your customers at the Bingo Hall without getting a windfall in profits. (We certainly don’t want a windfall in profits!)

A scenario that comes to mind is that of a sinking ship and everyone is in lifeboats except us Indians, we’re floating around struggling to keep afloat and no one will pull us into the boat. We’re treading water and all we can hope for now is a possible life jacket to keep our heads above water.
We are not asking for a “Windfall”, we’re just asking for a life jacket and then maybe just maybe we can stop treading water and build our own boat!

I can guarantee you one thing and that is if the Indians were in the boat we would pull every single one of you in.
In fact we did! Our ancestors helped your ancestors to survive.

We are not selfish people, never have been. We are totally willing to share. We were willing to share in 2004 and perhaps we wouldn’t be in this predicament if our proposal made in good faith and friendship had been accepted.

That did not happen so here we are now reduced to asking for 100 slot machines.

It’s time to let Indian people have the economic tools to help themselves and in so doing help surrounding communities. The Penobscot Nations High Stakes Bingo contributes approximately a million dollars a year to the surrounding communities of Old Town, Orono and Bangor. These contributions are the accumulation of what players spend on such things as food, lodging and shopping as well as what the Penobscot Nation pays it’s 70 part time employees who live and work and spend their money in the local area. It also pays for printing and advertising. We would like to be able to continue to make this contribution to our surrounding communities. It’s Time to be fair and to work with us for the good of the entire State.
We are willing to share; we have always been willing to share. That’s what neighbors do.

Let’s recognize that these are hard times and these hard times may even get worse. The basic colonial paradigm of keeping total control of the Indians and keeping them poor that set state policy and practices since 1820 must change. Many of you in fact most of you do not reason that way any longer, but those policies and practices still exist today. Those old worldviews will not work any longer in this global economy.

We must change that paradigm and those policies and partner and work together in order to compete in that ever-expanding global market. 100 slot machines is a mustard seed but it’s a beginning.

I ask you to vote for the amendment and start working towards fairness and a change in this State’s paradigm and treatment of Indian people.
Thank you

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