Opposed To Tribal Casino Gambling And Derogatory Geographic Site Names

By Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer

I am an indigenous peoples' rights advocate. I initated and am spearheading the movement to revert the faulty-translation and profane name of Minnesota's "Rum River" back to its sacred Dakota name Wakan, which when translated into English means Spirit or Great Spirit.

I also initiated and am spearheading the movement to change 13 other derogatory Minnesota geographic site names that are offensive to American Indians and many other people. In addition, I also have mission to put an end to tribal casino gambling. This mission of mine is not yet helping me to gain the support of all Minnesota tribes, nor is it helping me to gain the support of the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council.

During a meeting to learn more about honoring sacred Indian sites an internationally renowned American Indian activist said, "People trying to protect sacred sites are in competition with casino business interests."

I am trying to protect a sacred American Indian site, the Wakan Wakpa (Spirit River), and doing so, by trying to change the white man's current profane name for this river, "Rum". Therefore, I believe that my river name-change activist movement is in competition with tribal casino business interests.

In an radio broadcast that can be downloaded and listened to at Healing the Earth Waziyatawin Angela Wilson, a leading Minnesota Dakota activist, talks about Minnesota Dakota tribes as being "gaming" tribes that have an invested interest in their casinos and that the tribal council members of these tribes are more interested in, both, the money they make from their tribe's casino businesses and the respect they get from prominent non-Indian leaders of the dominate culture - who like them because they are leaders - than they are about regaining and preserving their people's good traditional values or liberating themselves and their tribes from the earth and health destroying dominate culture.

Tom Grey, the Executive Director for the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, read the following anti-casino statement by Irving Powless Jr. to me during an April 9, 2007 telephone conversation. Powless Jr. is chief of the Onondaga Nation.

"We won't put a casino here in Onondaga. It's an addictive detriment to the community, and the surrounding community. People lose their houses, jobs and families because of casinos. We won't base our economic development on such an (enterprise). As soon as you put up a casino, people want to go there and make money, and all they care about is money." Gewas Schindler, a grandson of an Onondaga chief and a first round draft choice in the NLL in 1999, said. "It's almost a complete mind-changer. You put it up and it begins to destroy your traditions." (Ref.) New York Daily News

Another quote from the New York Daily News article reads: "In the 19 years since Congress passed the Indian Regulatory Gaming Act, Native American casinos have become as much of a staple in the gambling industry as slot machines or blackjack tables. There are 224 tribes operating 354 casinos in 28 states - businesses that generated a total of $16.7 billion in 2003, the last year data is available, according to the National Indian Gaming Association. It is a trend that the Onondaga Nation will not be part of - no matter how much profit would ensue, no matter that its fellow Iroquois tribe, the Oneida, has a casino just to the east."

Some tribes have misused their treaty rights in order to get into cahoots with the greedy and corrupt corporate elite of the casino gambling industry. These greedy corporate elite people are in cahoots with the greedy corporate elite of the alcohol and tobacco industry and they all make a lot of money by taking advantage of people's addiction weaknesses.

The tribes that have gotten into cahoots with these greedy corporate elite rip offs and have abandon an essential core value of their traditional culture in order to make a lot of money and gain political clout. Consequently, there are more addicts, more treatment centers, bankruptcies, domestic abuse cases, child abuse cases, prisons, jails, divorces, etc.. These tribes with casinos are committing cultural genicide, spreading the white man's disease of greed and promoting the white man's health and earth destroying culture.

In an article published in the Bemidji Pioneer, Joe Day (Ojibwe), the state Department of Corrections liaison to tribes in Minnesota and former director of Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, is quoted as saying: "The Minnesota Indian Affairs Council has accomplished much since its inception in 1963, but also that new challenges remain." Day said, when comparing Minnesota with other states: "Minnesota has been decades ahead and is a flagship in tribal relationships." However, Day also said: "Relations have strained, in 2005 Governor Pawlenty proposed allowing competition to tribal gaming if tribal casinos didn't pay some of their profits to the state in lieu of taxes".

This is a good example of what happens when states allow or lure Indian tribes to establish casinos. When Indian casinos are established states get greedy for a cut of the lute that the lucrative Indian gambling businesses bring in. And this disease of greed causes more and more problems, it creates unhealthy competition, states against tribes and tribes against tribes, tribes and state Indian affairs councils abandon their good traditional values, sacred Indian sites are left unprotected, derogatory and profane geographic site names that are offensive to Indians who have not abandon their traditional culture for easy casinos money do not get replaced. They do not get replaced, because state Indian affairs councils that are preoccupied with promoting Indian casino gambling will not give their support for the efforts to replace derogatory names. They no longer care about protecting sacred Indian sites, nor replacing geographic site names that are offensive to them. They only care about their greedy casino gambling business interests.

On April 8, 2012 a USA Today/Arizona Republic article titled Tribes embrace native names to preserve culture...and subtitled Return to original place names preserves cultures, fixes wrongs was published.

The article presents a section about my work, it reads:

Thomas Dahlheimer, a Minnesota activist, helped promote an unsuccessful bill in his state that would have changed several place names, including "Snake River" and "Rum River."

Dahlheimer, who is not Native American, says those words are English-language translations of insulting names directed at Lakota tribes by rival Indian groups. In fact, he adds, the "Sioux" name is a foreign misnomer for Lakota people.

Dahlheimer says the legislation was stymied in part by Indian groups: "They were concerned about getting people mad at them in the dominant culture, and not going to the casinos

In an article published is the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, one of Minnesota's state-wide daily newspapers, its author, Monica Polanco, wrote: "Joe Day, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, has given Dahlheimer his "blessing," but the council is not formally supporting the change. "If he wants to do it fine, but . . . don't call on us to testify before the Legislature," he said. Day said the Indian community's problems with unemployment and welfare make Dahlheimer's efforts to change the name of the Rum River a low priority."

A question I have for Joe Day is: "How much time and how big of a sacrifice would it take to write a letter of support and address the legislature? And another question of mine for Joe Day is: What do..."the Indian community's problems with unemployment and welfare"... have to do with the Rum River name-change movement? I can hear some of our state's white Euro-American governmental elite saying to the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council: "Don't you dare give support for the efforts of people trying to protect your people's sacred sites or to people trying to change geographic site names that are derogatory and offensive to your people. You only have to make several more white legislators angry at your council and there will be enough legislators to pass legislation to establish a state owned casino or make tribes with casinos pay hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the state. And you know damn well this is true, so you better do as we say."

In 2007 Rep. Mike Jaros had a bill drafted to replace Minnesota's offensive names, then after the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council gave its approval for him to introduce the bill , he introduced it. At the time, the Council asked me to write a Minnesota Indian Affairs Council endorsement letter requesting that the Minnesota legislature pass the bill. I wrote the letter and sent it to the Council as requested. According to Jaros the Council did not send the Minnesota legislature the letter because I did not address the Council again and (this time) ask them to do so (which I was not even asked to do). Evidently, the casino-oriented Council did not give a damn if sacred sites were being desecrated with a profane geographic place name and their people, cultures and languages were being disrespected by derogatory geographic place names. This despicable situation caused Jaros to abandon his plan to write and introduce a Minnesota Apology Resolution that would apologize for the historic abuse of Minnesota's American Indians.

Russell Means, an internationally renowned American Indian activist who supports the effort to revert the derogatory and profane name of the "Rum River" back to its sacred Dakota name Wakan, calls the current structure of Indian reserves "Communist" and scathingly dismisses the resort to gambling enterprises. "I am totally against anything for free" that's casinos, that's government handouts. Anything you don't work for you shouldn't get. If you don't work, you shouldn't be rewarded, period. It creates a dependency syndrome that is only beneficial to those who are in control."

Susan Abrams, a Seneca tribal activist and prominent member of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling wrote: "What Congress is doing is destroying a culture - the First People of this land! We need to repeal the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. And we need to teach our children there are values and morals and principles to live by, and that a quality of life is more important than making a buck off a person who has an illness.

Dr. David Yeagley a nationally renowned Comanche Indian - argued that any monetary benefits are outweighed by the spiritual consequences of gambling.

"The whole concept of money without labor," he said, "is the fundamental flaw in the whole concept of the benefits that the gaming industry brings to Indian country."

He also said" "Not all tribes welcome gambling. The Navajo and the Hopi, for instance, have opposed gambling interests encroaching on their sovereignty."

"The Hopi people, this past July 2004, voted against having casinos," Yeaglbey said. "It's against their values, it's against their tradition and an elder was quoted as saying that it's morally wrong to take advantage of someone else's weakness."

He said the quickest way to surrender Indian sovereignty is to permit gambling, because business interests from the outside take hold.

Elmer M. Savilla, Quechan, is the former executive director of the Inter-Tribal Council of California and of the National Tribal Chairmen's Association. He wrote in an Indian Country Today article titled In a mirror, darkly: Survival vs. casinos:

"In an article written in 1995, I predicted the demise of self-governing sovereign American Indian tribes to be completed by 2075. I have now reduced my estimate by 25 years. The future does not look too good for tribal governments, and sadly, they will have had a part in their own destruction."

"It all started in 1978 when Congress proposed legislation that would give federally recognized tribes the right to conduct gambling on their reservations. Most tribal leaders were elated. They counted dollar signs in their dreams, even though a few straight thinkers warned them of trouble to come."

"The legislation was gently-worded, but the devil was in the details. It was pointed out to tribal leaders that the legislation required that if a tribe wanted to operate games of chance, they would have to give up part of their sovereignty to the state wherein the gambling would take place. 'No worries,' said the tribal leaders. Another innocently-worded clause required them to negotiate a 'compact,' or a contract, that would control how they operated their 'gaming,' with that same state."

"Again, 'No worries,' they said, as dollar signs flooded their minds. 'We can take care of ourselves.' Yeah, sure you can."

"It is interesting to see that compacts made today resemble regulation by a state instead of a negotiated agreement. Worse, in California, the new compacts effectively remove any sign of tribal sovereignty, unless 'risk-taking and paying the bills' is sovereignty. In my mind, there's another point of contention. There are some lawyers who say that states are violating the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by insisting on compacts in which the fine print regulates tribes' interstate commerce. That's an argument that is ripe for picking."

C.L.Henson is a former Director of the Special Education Unit of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and a member of the Cherokee nation. He wrote:

"The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed on October 17, 1988. The states lobbied mightily for the compact provisions of the act that requires states to negotiate gaming compacts 'in good faith'. This provision further erodes the sovereignty of tribes in that it allows states to have some control over tribal activities."

"The Gaming Act established a National Indian Gaming Commission further eroding tribal sovereignty in that there is another regulatory body that determines Indian activities. The Commission has regulatory requirement for tribal gaming operations and has final approval of all Indian casino management contracts."

Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji) - a noted Native American journalist who is the founder and former editor and publisher of the Lakota Times, Indian Country Today, and the Lakota, Dakota and Pueblo Journals - wrote in Native American Times: (ref.)

"In South Dakota we have seen the arrests of several respectable, middle-aged, white women for embezzling money from the firms where they worked in order to support their gaming addiction. This is also happening on Indian reservations across America. Of course, in South Dakota gambling is legal in small casinos in nearly every community in the state."

"This addiction to gambling has not caused the big splash in Indian country yet, but that splash is coming. If you doubt me just visit any Indian casino on any Indian reservation in this country and you will see many tribal members ensconced at the gaming tables and slot machines in their own casinos."

"This gambling addiction is already contributing to many new social problems in Indian country. Adults are spending their per capita payments, and their welfare and paychecks at the gaming tables. They are losing the money they should have used to buy school clothes for their children, to pay their rent or mortgage or to buy food to put on their tables. They are abandoning their children to babysitters or worse, leaving them at home alone, while they feed their gambling addiction at their reservation casinos."

"Although the casinos have turned out to be the goose that laid the golden egg to many heretofore poverty stricken tribes, their very success has created a new generation of gambling addicts. It is a shame to see the casinos grow at the expense of tribal members. Those dedicated groups and organizations on the Indian reservations that have so successfully fought alcoholism and drug addiction now have a new battle on their hands."

Tamra Brennan - mixed blood Cherokee, editor and director of NDNnews and Rum River name-change supporter - wrote:

A few excepts from Brennan's article Today's genocide are presented below.

Tribal gaming should have strengthened tribal sovereignty, brought financial freedom to the people and given hope for future generations. Instead in to many cases, it has brought disunity, spiritual sickness and the dominant cultures disease, greed, which has resulted in tribes turning on each other, family feuds, hate, drugs, violence and attempted murder in several cases. Many reservations have non-Indians running their tribal councils. These people are part of families that were adopted into the tribe many years ago and have taken control, disenrolling families that have been on the reservation for generations. What this amounts to is, a modern day cultural genocide and is resulting in what we have been fighting since 1492, only now, it is Indians ~vs.~ Indians. Tribes are falling into what the dominant society has been attempting to accomplish for hundreds of years; to conquer and divide. All Native people will be affected by this in the end. Our ancestors fought against genocide with thousands giving their lives to protect the way of life for their people. I think they would be disgusted and appalled with this disease that is tearing apart and dividing Indian Country.

Internationally renowned Indigenous activist Oren Lyons talks, in part, about the greed associated with tribal casinos in the following video.

Only about one-third of tribes own gaming facilities, many of which are limited to bingo. Many tribes believe that gambling as a business damages their cultures, and they detect a decline in the traditional values and religion of tribes that have organized gaming.

I believe that when the federal government as well as state governments allow/ lure oppressed and deeply impoverished tribes to establish casino and bingo gambling businesses - instead of helping them to establish businesses that are compatible with their traditional cultures - they are allowing/luring these impoverished tribes to assimilate into one of the most greedy and corrupt aspects of our nation's dominate culture; and that by doing so, they are participating in another cultural genocide scheme.

For the reasons mentioned above, I am opposed to legalized tribal gambling. And I believe that if I can put an end to legalized tribal gambling, the three Dakota communities that have not yet given their support for the effort to change the profane name of the Rum River, along with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojbwe, a band of Ojibwe who live on the headwaters of the badly named "Rum" River, will return to their sacred traditional cultures. And by doing so, once again embrace their traditional high moral standards; and that when they do this, they, as well as the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, will give their support for the effort to change the derogatory and profane Rum River name.

It was the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling that influenced Congress to establish a Commission to study the effects that legalized gambling have on our nation's communities, families and individuals. When this Congressional Commission, the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, finished its study, it asked for a nation-wide moratorium on the expansion of gambling.

Tom Grey, the Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, called me to let me know that he approves of my effort to use some of Minnesota's casino operating Native American communities' lack of support for the movement to change the profane Rum River name, as a means, to educate the public, on how tribal gambling is destroying Native American culture and sovereignty.

Mr. Grey also told me that he would help me build a coalition against legalized gambling in Minnesota and that I could use his and his organization's name on my coalition's list. And he also said that he would meet with me when he comes to Minnesota. I hope to influence Congress to put an end to tribal gambling businesses by repealing the Indian Gambling Regulatory Act. And I also hope to influence Congress to establish and implement a plan to help Native American economics to prosper, by helping Native American communities to establish businesses on their reservations that will be compatible with their traditional cultures.

Archbishop Harry Flynn has given his "blessing and best wishes" on these two "endeavors"of mine. The archbishop also supports my effort to change the derogatory Rum River name.

Rep. Tom Emmer, a Republican from Delano, Minnesota, wrote an article that was published in the Princeton Union-Eagle on August 31, 2006 - an article that explained why he offered an amendment to the MN House of Representatives for the purpose of prohibiting gambling in Minnesota, including legalized tribal gambling. A letter to the editor of mine about my effort to change the profane Rum River name was published in the same edition of the Princeton Union-Eagle. And after I read Rep. Tom Emmer's article I contacted him to find out if he would like to support my effort to change our state's derogatory names as well as work with me to put an end to gambling in Minnesota. We corresponded with each other for a while after our initial contact.

And during a meeting with Christopher Leifeld, the Executive Director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, I told him that I believed that Native American communities were abandoning their sacred traditional values and then lowering themselves - not just down to the dominate culture's level - but down below it in order to make a lot of money by taking advantage of people's addition weaknesses, and he said "YES".

When I told him that I believed that Las Vagus type leaders of the casino gambling industry were using or manipulating Native American communities with gambling businesses, he said that that was what the Minnesota Catholic Conference also believes.

Within our present-day multicultural society a lot of good willed Minnesotans mistakenly thought that it would be good to let oppressed and deeply impoverished Indian tribes have casinos. However, unlike Las Vagus type leaders of the gambling industry, little did they know that once the Indian tribes with casinos started making a lot of money our state government would get greedy and want to make a lot of money by owning and running a state owned casino gambling business. And that once our state government gets in cahoots with the Las Vagus type leaders of the gambling industry and establishes a state owned casino, as they almost did a few years ago, then, like in some other states, the Las Vagus type leaders of the gambling industry, leaders who are in cahoots with the leaders of the alcohol and tobacco industries, will establish the biggest and most powerful lobby in the state. They will then virtually run the state, a state that will be promoting radical hedonism. And the Minnesota tribes that have casinos have fallen right into their trap as have also a lot of other naive Minnesota citizens.

Tom Wisner, a national renowned singer, song writer and conservationist who has a radio show that streams on the world wide web and can be heard anywhere there is an e-mail connection, dedicated a radio show to the movement to revert the Rum River's profane name back to its sacred Dakota name.

Mr. Wisner supports the effort to change the profane Rum River name and he sent me the following e-mail about his position on Indian casinos. Mr. Wisner's following e-mail was originally sent to a friend of his and then later sent to me.

"There are many modern and descended Native People in that region as in all regions who could give a damn less for the sacred quality or heritage of a name or for ascribing a sacred name for their river. Not just a few of their people are caught up with the monies being made in their casinos. I am interested in the men and women who walk in a sacred manner! Men and women who care as you do for the sustaining qualities of life in the land and its waters." Tom Wisner told me that in one of his songs in his latest CD he has some lyrics that protest against this regions lack of Indian support for the effort to change the profane name of a river, the "Rum River".

I am a "Rainbow" of the Rainbow Family. The Rainbow Family is a counter-culture group that gathers yearly in numbers up to 40,000 in national forests to pray for peace on earth, and to participate in community building within alterative lifestyles, based on Native American traditions. Our group is made up of 1960s influenced hippie counter-cultural environmentalists who protest against the dominate culture's earth destroying materialistic values and those who promote them, such as people who promote casino gambling. We believe in the Hopi prophecy:

"You will see many youth, who wear their hair long like my people, come and join the tribal nations, to learn their ways and wisdom." However, now-days a lot of tribal nations are promoting materialistic values by establishing casinos on their reservations. Therefore, now-days we have to also protest against a lot of tribal nations for abandoning their sacred traditions in order to make a lot of money by promoting the dominate culture's materialistic value system.

I occasionally give an update report on the progress of my movement to change the profane Rum River name to a prominent member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. He says" "Everyone is supporting the effort except Minnesota's Indians and I find that appalling."

After years of trying unsuccessfully to gain the support of three Minnesota Dakota Indian communities, communities that I will probably need support from in order to change profane the Rum River name back to its sacred Dakota name, Wakan, I am seriously thinking about deciding to once again change my tactics, hoping that if I do change my tactics, my new tactics might work to influence them to support the effort to change the profane and derogatory Rum River name.

I also have not been able to gain the support of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. This band's "reservation" is located on the headwaters of the Wakan Wakpa (or "Rum River"), a most sacred ancestral homeland of the Dakota people. I will also probably need this band's support in order to revert the river's profane name back to its sacred Dakota name.

The big question that I am asking is...why have these Minnesota Native American communities not given their support for the effort to change this river's profane name, a name that blatantly desecrates the Dakota people's sacred name for their sacred river, sacred ancestral homeland and sacred traditional culture and language. And another question that I am asking is...why didn't they give their support even after the Minnesota Historical Society's Indian Advisory Committee gave its support for the effort to rename the river?

Here I will both attempt to accurately identify and explain the reason why I believe they have not given their support, as well as explain what I am probably going to do in the future, in order to resolve the problem associated with why they have not given their support. I believe that if I can resolve these problems I will be able to gain their support. And this is what my mission is here.

I will start by explaining why I believe three Dakota communities have not yet given their support.

It seems to me that these three Dakota Communities, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux (Dakota) Community, Prairie Island Mdewakanton Dakota Community and the Lower Sioux Mdewakanton Community, by assimilating into a greedy money-loving aspect of the dominate culture (the casino gambling business) have lost due respect for their traditional culture. A culture that has historically been known for its high moral standard associated with the principle of not being willing to take advantage of people's addiction weaknesses in order to make money.

I believe that by abandoning this essential core principle of their sacred traditional culture they have lost due respect for their sacred traditional culture and language; and that because of their involvement with the greedy money-loving gambling business they have also lost due respect for people involved with movements that are trying to protect both their sacred sites as well as their sacred geographic place names from being desecrated. Therefore I believe that their involvement with the casino gambling business is the reason why they have not given their support for the effort to rename the "Rum River".

And because the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe also own and operate a casino, or rather casinos, I believe that this is also the reason why they have not given their support for the effort to change the river's profane and derogatory name.

And I also believe that when Native American communities with casino gambling businesses are presented with information about people trying to protect both their sacred Native American geographic place names as well as sacred sites they are often afraid to give their support because they believe that if they were to do so their support might cause a "wave" that could jeopardize their casino gambling business interests.

Many state governments, including Minnesota's state government, are debating whether they should expand gambling in their perspective states or not. And if high ranking state governmental officials were to get angry with a Native American community, or Native American communities, for supporting an effort to change the profane and derogatory name of a geographic place their anger might influence them to go ahead and establish a state owned casino, or state owned casinos, and this would hurt the Native American's casino gambling business interests.

Therefore, casino operating Native American communities are (I believe) often reluctant to support efforts to protect both sacred Native American sites as well as scared Native America geographic place names. And I believe that this is the reason why three Minnesota Dakota communities as well as the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe have not yet given their support for the effort to change the profane Rum River name.

And I also believe that the federal government and some state governments, as well as the powerful gambling industry are manipulating, or using, Native American communities that own and operate casino gambling businesses; and are doing so, to serve their own selfish interest at the expense of Native American culture and sovereignty. And I believe that this is also a factor in why these Native American communities have not yet given their support for the effort to change the river's profane and derogatory name.

In respect to the a Governor of Minnesota's past scheme to coheres Minnesota tribes with casinos to pay the state 350 million dollars a year or else he would try to open a state owned casino, Melanie Benjamin, the Chief Executive for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, wrote a letter wherein she said that the Governor of Minnesota was, "bullying and black mailing" both the Mille Lacs Band as well as some other Minnesota tribes to do what he wants them to do.

I believe that this is an example of how state governments can manipulate, or use, Native American communities with casinos; and that this is not good for Native American culture and sovereignty.

And I also believe that if the, mentioned above, three Dakota communities and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe were to support the effort to change the river's derogatory name, their support could make the State of Minnesota an even worse "bully and black mailer". Hence, I believe that this "fear" has a lot to do with why they have not given their support for the effort to rename the river.

I believe that if the coalition that I am building to both influence the U.S. Congress to not only force all casino and bingo operating Native American communities to get out of the gambling business, as well as offer all Native American communities a lot of Congressional help to establish businesses that would be compatible with their cultures is successful, I will be able to influence these Minnesota Native American communities to support the effort to change the "Rum" River's profane name.

And I also believe that if all of our nation's Native American communities that own and operate a casino or casinos would get out of the casino gambling business and into businesses compatible with their sacred traditional cultures our nation would be a much better nation.

And I believe that the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe's lack of support for the effort to change the profane Rum River profane name is due to the fact that they have abandoned their sacred traditional culture for easy money. In one of their casino's they sell two addictive products, gambling and tobacco. And in their other casino they sell three addictive products, gambling, tobacco and alcohol. And they are making a lot of money by capitalizing on the sells of these addictive products, products that cause both health and economic problems for a lot of people.

I wrote a letter to the editor about this issue and it was published in the Mille Lacs Messenger. It is presented below. The letter mentions Melanie Benjamin's name, Melanie Benjamin is the Chief Executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

Mille Lacs Messenger
by Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer
April 16, 2003


In response to Melanie Benjamin's April 9 letter to the Messenger, I would like to say that I agree with her statement that the band's casino gambling businesses provide a lot of jobs for rural area people. But so do the sales of illegal drugs. Drug dealers make a lot of money, and then they buy houses, cars, etc. and this "helps" our rural economy to "prosper". I wonder if Melanie Benjamin ever stops to think about whether the casino business is immoral and incompatible with the Mille Lacs Band's traditional high moral standards. If she were to see band member children going without food because their parents lost all their money gambling, like I have on a number of occasions, she might start thinking more seriously about these moral issues.

Why do our country's Native Americans have to abandon their tradition of high moral standards and degrade themselves by getting involved with the casino gambling business, the casino sales of tobacco at cut-rate prices, storing nuclear waste on their reservations and, after centuries of suffering with the plague of alcoholism, the business practice of selling alcohol in many of their casinos?

With all the foreign aid that our government gives to far away countries, I would think that they could help our country's Native American communities' economics to prosper without forcing our Native Americans to degrade themselves by abandoning their traditional moral standards in order to make enough money to live comfortably.

Thomas Dahlheimer

Note: Melanie Benjamin was dethroned from her Chief Executive job for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe for embezzling alot of money from her Ojibwe band. **************************************************************************

Mille Lacs Messenger/December 25, 2003

Opposed to casinos

This is in respect to the Dec. 18 Messenger article wherein former Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Marge Anderson responded to the Dec. 16 Time magazine article that criticized the Mille Lacs Band for "joining forces" with casino investor Lyle Berman, characterized by Time as a greedy person who "unloaded a block of stock before it plummeted."

I would like to say that the reason why the banks would not invest money in the band's proposed casino was because the bankers knew that too many people who start gambling end up addicted and lose their hard-earned money. Therefore, the bankers were conscientious and chose not to invest in the band's greedy casino business scam. The band chose to join forces with an investor who didn't care about future casino victims.

The reason for my harsh criticism of the band's casinos is because some of my band member friends have become addicted to gambling and they are hurting.

I believe that the Indian casino profits are ill-gained and are destroying the Native American's traditional cultural and sacred spirituality.

The Time magazine article that focused in on the Mille Lacs Band's casinos was titled "Who Gets the Money?" The article answers the question by stating, "In many cases the big winners are non-indian investors, some of whom pocket more than 40 percent of an Indian casino's profits." The article continues "Of all the bets Berman has placed, the smartest was to gamble on Indian gaming with his 1990 decision to join forces with a Minnesota tribe, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians."

The cover article also says, "Imagine, if you will. Congress passing a bill to make Indian tribes more self-sufficient that gives billions of dollars to the white backers of Indian businesses, and nothing to hundreds of thousands of Native Americans living in poverty. Or a bill that gives hundreds of millions of dollars to an Indian tribe with a few dozen members. Or a bill that allows select Indian tribes to create businesses that reap millions of dollars in profits and pay no federal income tax, at the same time that the tribes collect millions in aid from American taxpayers. Can't imagine Congress passing such a bill? It did."

The present-day consequences are scandalous for Congress and the many Native American leaders who pressured Congress to pass such a bill. I would like to see Congress put a moratorium on the expansion of Indian casinos in the United States and then help the Native Americans to convert their casinos into other types of businesses.

Thomas Dahlheimer


Mille Lacs Messenger/January 25, 2006


In response to statements made by the Chief Executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Melane Benjamin during the State of the Band address, statements published in a January 18, 2006 Messenger article, "To Stop the devastation of the Mille Lacs "hurricane," I would like to express that I believe that they are shot through with hypocrisy and do nothing to help resolve the problems that she and other Bands leaders are trying to resolve.

During the State of the Band address, Chief Executive Benjamin said, "The responsibility lays with us as parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to get our children involved in our culture. If we help our youth learn our traditions. If we help them take pride in their Anishinabe identity, they won't be so quick to look for themselves in drugs and alcohol." And Benjamin also said, "I want to send a message to the people selling drugs that they can't do it here."

As long as the Band sells addictive and harmful produces, such as gambling, tobacco and alcohol - and by doing so, promotes the antitheses of Anishinabe culture, Benjamin's mentioned above statements are not going to be taken seriously by Band members who are selling other addictive produces.

In a recent letter to the Messenger, I tried to influence Mille Lacs County leaders to help me establishment of a dry (alcohol free) county, but the leaders of the Mille Lacs Band have not given me any assistance with this initiative of mine.

Mille Lacs Band leaders say they are trying to stop the alcohol abuse "hurricane" devastating their people, but they have not given their support for my effort to establish a dry Mille Lacs County and by doing so help their people and other Native Americans to free themselves from the perpetual "hurricane" of alcoholism.

Therefore, I believe that this years State of the Band address was a hypocritical blunder that is going to cause more suffering and grief for both Band members as well as for many other people living in and visiting Mille Lacs County. It seems to me that blatant hypocrisy was the theme of this years State of the Band address.

Thomas Dahlheimer


On February 9, 2005, the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, a state-wide distributed Minnesota newspaper, published a letter to the editor of mine. Along with this letter their was a 3 by 4 inch picture of a casino card game, along with a half inch tall title for the letter. This letter to the editor is presented below.

Tribal gaming will destroy us

The introduction of "Indian Gaming" is more threatening to Native American culture and sovereignty than alcohol or smallpox ever were. It is causing conflicts between tribes and state governments. What has the white man ever given Native Americans that he has not, in due time, taken away because of greed?

State government officials' promises of granting and protecting the Indian monopolies on casino gambling in their perspective states will be broken, leaving the tribes broke, indebted, addicted and abandoned. This will be the worst of all our government's broken promises to our country's Native Americans. And only then will Native American communities that decided to assimilate into a greedy money loving aspect of the white man's culture understand what a terrible mistake they made.


On March 9, 2005 a letter to the editor of mine titled: Opposed to casinos was published in the Mille Lacs Messenger. This letter is presented below.

Opposed to casinos

I founded and am spearheading the international movement to rename the Rum River. But three of the Mdewakanton Dakota communities that own and operate casino gambling businesses have not yet given their support for the effort to change the river's profane name, a name that desecrates their culture and language.

I find this situation appalling. I am trying to influence the Mdewakanton Dakota "Indians" to reconnect with their ancient traditional culture in their ancient traditional homeland on the headwaters of the so-called Rum River, the river they know as Wakan, translated as (Great) Spirit. And in doing so, rectify the injustices that are being committed against them in their ancient Mille Lacs Lake area homeland.

I believe that because of their greed for money that they receive from their lucrative casino gambling businesses they therefore are not interested in helping me to rename the Rum River, and in doing so, show due respect for their culture and language.

And I also believe that because of their involvement with the lucrative casino gambling business, they have lost a lot of respect for their culture and language; and that not until they either get their casinos taken away from them or they decide to put an end to their lucrative casino businesses will they give their support for the effort to change the name. Therefore, I have decided to build a coalition to put an end to Indian casinos.

This morning, I spoke on the phone with Tom Grey, the executive director for the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling. We talked for quite a while. During our conversation he told me that he and his organization understand how Indian casinos are destroying Indian sovereignty.

He said that he would help me to build a coalition that would help educated people about how Indian casinos are destroying Indian culture. And he supports my effort to use the three Mdewakanton Dakota communities' lack of support for the effort to rename the Rum River as an example of how American Indian communities that own and operate casinos are destroying Indian culture.

Tom Grey also told me that he had spoken to Ralph Nader and that he, also, was opposed to Indian casinos and that he understood how corporate greed associated with Indian casinos was hurting Indian sovereignty.

Mr. Grey also told me that he would be making some phone calls to Minnesota organizations opposed to Indian casinos. And he also told me that he travels a lot and that he would meet with me when he arrives in Minnesota.

Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer,
director of Rum River Name
Change Organization, Inc.


On April 6, 2005, the Saint Paul Pioneer Press published a letter to the editor of mine. It's presented below.

Let's rename the Rum River

I founded and am spearheading the international movement to rename our state's Rum River. A book published by the Minnesota Historical Society states that the river's current name is a "punning translation" that "perverts the ancient Sioux name Wakan".

Because of greed for casino money, I believe, both the Shakopee and Prairie Island Mdewakanton Dakota Communities have lost due respect for their traditional culture. Therefore they have not yet given their support for the effort to rename the Rum River.

The Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community and the Upper Sioux Community have given their support for the effort to rename the river, as has the Minnesota Historical society's Indian Advisory Committee and the United Nations.

Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer


On April 20, 2005 the Mille Lacs Messenger published the following letter to the editor of mine.

Tobacco concerns

Does the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe really care about solving its tobacco abuse health problems?

They say they're trying to stop, or at least curb, tobacco abuse on their reservation, but then why do they sell tobacco, and at cut rate prices, in their casinos?

Studies indicate that when the price of tobacco goes up, the selling of tobacco goes down.

That's why there is a Minnesota bill to raise the tax on cigarettes.

And studies also indicate that casinos and bars have the highest levels of health destroying second hand smoke exposure. If the Mille Lacs Band really cared about its people's (and other people's) health it would both stop selling tobacco in their casinos as well as ban smoking.

Tobacco kills more people than alcohol, murder, suicide, car accidents, AIDs, illicit drugs and fires combined. But making money off of people with addition problems seems to be a big part of the present-day economic policies of the Mille Lacs Band.

Consider how the Mille Lacs Band casinos are contributing to our nation's and state's gambling addition mental health epidemic, which causes a lot of bankruptcies, embezzlements, unpaid bills, lies, suicides, broken families and self destruction. Current estimates list approximately 2.2 million people as pathological gamblers, another 5.3 million as problem gamblers and 15 million people at risk to become problem or pathological gamblers. And 2 percent of gamblers account for 63 percent of all the money legally waged in Minnesota.

The Mille Lacs Band lures people (including some of their own people) into their casinos and then destroys their mental and physical health as well as takes their money from them. It seems to me that the Mille Lacs Band is suffering from a greedy money-loving moral crisis and that it needs to make radical changes in order to get back to the traditional Indian way of high moral integrity.

Thomas Dahlheimer, Wahkon


Mille Lacs Messender/September 27, 2006

Contributing hatred

The last half of the "Contribuning hatred" letter is presented below.

Tribal casinos are also a source of racial hatred. The United Methodist Church has taken a positions on this controversial issues by making the following public statement: "Because of the United Methodist's public witness on gambling we are on countless mailing lists for groups opposed to gambling. We believe that off-reservation casinos have fostered an anti-sovereignty climate, which is growing. We find the increase in anti-sovereignty and anti-Indian racist rhetoric by some of these groups alarming. We do our best to counteract the positions of these groups at every opportunity, but, the careless disregard for communities and children in promoting off-reservation casinos, some in poorest of areas, make this very difficult. It is simply unacceptable that tribes propose to build casinos with little or no regard for their social cost on a community."

I am also opposed to Tribal casino gambling, as well as to all other types of legalized gambling. And I am starting a movement to put an end to gambling in Minnesota. An article by Rep. Tom Emmer was recently published in the Princeton Union-Eagle. In the article he mentioned that he recently offered an amendment to the House of Representatives to put an end to gambling in Minnesota. I contacted him and we have started to correspond. Hopefully, we will be able to put an end to gambling in Minnesota, including Tribal casino gambling businesses, another source of racial hatred.

Thomas Dahlheimer


Native American communities are plagued with alcohol and drug addiction and also with all kinds of immoral behavior that goes along with their substance additions. And the leaders of a lot of these communities have decided that the thing to do is to get in cahoots with the gambling, alcohol and tobacco industries so that they can made a lot of money by taking advantage of people with addition weaknesses.

Most the money that is made from the sells of alcohol and tobacco comes from abusive users and some studies indicate that most of the money made in casinos comes from people who are addicted to gambling.

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe have two big casinos and they have had them for a number of years and the hereditary chief of the Mille Lacs Band recently said that alcohol and drug abuse on his reservation is worse than it has ever been.

I recommend that Native American communities close down their casinos and get back to their sacred traditional values. And if they do, I believe that I will be able to revert the profane Rum River's name back to its sacred Dakota name Wakan.

In a rare show of unity on a public-policy issue, the mainline ecumenical National Council of Churches and the conservative evangelical Christian Coalition announced January 17, 2006 that they would work together to try to stop the spread of legal gambling in the U.S. "When the Christian Coalition and the National Council of Churches join together on an issue, that's remarkable," said Ralph Reed, the former's executive director. Reed spoke at a news conference to mark the opening of a Washington office of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling.

Reed was joined by Tom Grey, a United Methodist minister and executive director of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling; Mary Cooper, associate director of the National Council of Churches' Washington office; and representatives of the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The new Washington office, to be headed by Grey, is an expansion of a modest effort he began in Chicago. He said the interfaith effort is a signal that the nation's religious community is ready to take the offensive against the gambling industry.

"It is our view that gambling in any form contributes nothing positive to society," the NCC's Cooper said. "It offers no services, creates nothing of value, and does not improve the lives of those who participate."

Using even stronger language, Ralph Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition, said: "We believe gambling is a cancer on the American body politic. It is stealing food from the mouths of children ... [and] turning wives into widows."

Elenora Ivory Giddings, in voicing the Presbyterian Church's support for the antigambling coalition, cited a July 1995 statement of the denomination charging that legalized gambling "has negatively affected the overall quality of life and has cost billions of dollars in communities and entire states."

Thom White Wolf Fassett, general secretary of the United Methodist Church's Board of Church and Society, told the news conference that his denomination "has been adamantly opposed to gambling" since Methodism's founding. In praising the launching of the national office, Fassett said "the churches are the likely center" for this antigambling drive.

The Bishops of the United Methodist Church provide spiritual leadership to more than 11 million persons. The United Methodist Church has a long history of concern for social justice. Its members have often taken forthright positions on controversial issues involving Christian principles, such as:

Gambling is a menace to society, deadly to the best interest of moral, social, economic, and spiritual life and destructive of good government. As an act of faith and concern we call Christians to abstain from gambling and to minister to those victimized by the practice." Furthermore we call "The Church to promote standards = and lifestyles that would make unnecessary and undesirable the resort to commercial gambling as recreation, as an escape, or as a means of producing public revenue or funds for support of charities or government."

The United Methodist Church also takes the following position on gambling. "We are alarmed at the expansion of gambling and, more specifically, the proliferation of off-reservation casinos and casino proposals. We believe that off-reservation casinos are having devastating effect on intertribal relations, tribal to community relations."

A United Methodist who is also a Seneca American Indian wrote: These (gambling business) proposals are antithetical to my tribe's traditional beliefs. My grandmother taught me that I am a member of an immediate family, I as a member of an extended and tribal family, and I am a member of a global family. This concept is not foreign to most American Indian people. Yet, when did we stop caring about the rest of the world, and only care about ourselves and our best interests alone? It is not in the best interest for gamblers to gamble away their hard-earned dollars. The numbers of people who gamble are disproportionately poor, lower income, or seniors on fixed incomes. Gambling takes money away from the people who need it the most. Is this the way states, communities, tribes want to balance budgets. Is this good stewardship of the gifts God has given us?

Furthermore, there are other American Indians opposed to off-reservation and even on-reservation casinos but they fear retribution. This has happened in my own family. Our family opposed the casinos our tribe proposed. My family endured death threats, bodily harm, intimidation tactics and outright ostracization for our public stand. The struggle of our tribe is not unique from other tribes. The split between pro and anti-casino groups split the community, divides churches on the reservation, and even divides families. In my own home church it has even physically split the church. When we worship, anti-casino people sit on one side of the church and the pro-casino people sit on the other side of the church. Is it any wonder that American Indian people opposed to Indian gambling are afraid to speak up?

The United Methodist Church believes that American Indian people bring gifts to the world. They have taught people who came to this country how to live, how to survive, how to care for the earth and its people. It is critical, at this time, that American Indian people/tribes not allow the temptation of greed to overwhelm the gifts that have allowed American Indians the ability to survive and maintain their traditions.

March 10, 2008 - Department of Interior bars any new long-distance casino proposals from tribes.

Quotes from March 10, 2008 Saint Paul Pioneer Press article:.

"A major policy change this year by the Department of Interior will slow the growth of the multibillion-dollar Indian casino industry, which has gained controversy for developments in communities far from reservation land."

"The latest policy maneuver, for now, puts the Bush administration's brakes on the industry."

"I. Nelson Rose, a gambling law professor at Whittier Law School, said the move effectively bars any new long-distance casino proposals from tribes."

An article that is related to my "opposed to Indian casinos" stance can be found at First Nations should reconsider policies towards tobacco, alcohol and gambling

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