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TRIBAL GAMING OPPONENT'S IGNORANCE OF INDIAN LAW IS 'DEEP AND DANGEROUS,' NIGA CHAIRMAN HILL WARNS

 WASHINGTON, June 28 /PRNewswire/ -- The chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) today said that a leading Congressional opponent's public reference to tribal sovereignty as a "legal fiction," confirms that "the big commercial gambling interests will resort to rewriting the history books if that's what it takes to destroy Indians."
 NIGA Chairman Rick Hill referred to a June 24 Associated Press account of remarks by Rep. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.), House sponsor of legislation attempting to curb the right of tribes to sponsor gaming operations. That right was recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987, then by Congress the following year in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Responding to the Act's acknowledgment of the right to sponsor gaming as an attribute of tribal sovereignty, Torricelli reportedly told AP that such sovereignty is a "legal fiction," adding, "If Indian lands are sovereign, there would be no right to prosecute for murder or espionage and there would be no right for the federal government to enter."
 "The inherent sovereignty of Indian tribes has been the underlying principle of federal Indian law and, the cornerstone of the federal- tribal government-to-government relationship, for more than two centuries," Hill noted. "Congress can expressly qualify the powers of tribal self-government -- and has done so in some cases, such as by assuming jurisdiction over murder and other `major crimes' committed on reservations. But that in no way undercuts the inherent nature of tribal sovereignty recognized by the U.S. Constitution and federal law, as Mr. Torricelli suggests," he explained.
 "It's hard to know what's deeper: Mr. Torricelli's ignorance of Indian law, or the casino pockets supporting his effort," Hill said. "It's one thing to be innocently uninformed; quite another to deliberately spread misinformation on behalf of the commercial gambling czars who want tribally sponsored gaming out of their way," he continued.
 "Clearly, when the House author of legislation adverse to the tribes' welfare is so woefully uninformed, it's doubly dangerous having that bill referred elsewhere than to the Native American Affairs Subcommittee, where the expertise in Indian issues resides," Hill warned. NIGA, established in 1985, is a non-profit organization of more than 120 tribes in 32 states that now have gaming operations or are seeking to establish them.
 -0- 6/28/93
 /CONTACT: Tim Wapato, executive director, National Indian Gaming Association, 202-546-7711/


CO: National Indian Gaming Association ST: District of Columbia IN: SU: LEG

DC-KD -- DC005 -- 6163 06/28/93 10:40 EDT
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Date:Jun 28, 1993
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