December 10, 2012 by meximo70
Minnesotans, no matter how much they complain, like their Minnesota Vikings. Senator Bob Gunter has been an advocate of taxing the “indians” in their casino earnings.
His letter dated Dec. 17th had this to say: “The Racino bill is another measure Gunter supports. The proposal would make Native American-owned casino profits taxable, creating enough revenue to pay for a new Vikings stadium in 10 years, according to Gunter.
“The new governor thinks Indians should pay taxes too,” Gunter said. “They’ve had a free ride long enough.”
I wrote an editorial to speak out against what he had written:
“To the Editor:
Regarding the article “Lawmakers put emphasis on jobs” printed on Dec. 17. It clearly shows the ignorance of the incumbent elected official, Bob Gunter, who commented on the Racino Bill, in which Native American casinos should be taxed.
I am writing about this particular statement: “The new governor thinks Indians should pay taxes too,” Gunter said. “They’ve had a free ride long enough.”
This is the 21st century, Mr. Gunter. “Indians”? seriously? A “free ride” in the reservations our government put them in? What is next, putting African-Americans back into slavery because they’ve been free long enough?
The reservations are THEIR land, THEIR nation. If we want tax dollars to pay for a Vikings stadium (which is ridiculous) then we should open our own casinos.
I was then attacked by a Kathy Coonz from No Hope, MN sticking up for Senator Gunter and the Racino bill. She thought my stance was outdated and that i needed to get over the past and that indians are making too much money:
“To the Editor:
I want to comment on Meximo Gundersen’s letter to the editor on Dec. 21.
Mr. Gundersen, I think you missed a few facts in writing your comments. First, have you visited the casino at Shakopee lately? Have you looked at the size of that place? Do you know how much land they have been able to buy (driving land prices so high families cannot afford to pay the inheritance taxes or purchase it at auction) and have removed it from the tax rolls by adding it to their reservation?
You do remember do you not, that the members of our ruling body gave our Indian tribes a monopoly when they allowed them to open their casinos and therefore we do not have the right to open a Racino? The Indians would be money ahead to pay taxes on their profits than they would if some of us good residents of Minnesota pushed to have that right of a monopoly overturned and we did build our own casino.
Yes, our forefathers did not treat the forefathers of the American Indians fairly in some of the things that happened in the past. Yes, they had a right to a better life than they had, but then again so did or do so many of the white and black Americans alive today in this United States of America. But the fact is that after 200-plus years, it is time for all of us to forget and forgive what those old forefathers did to each other. It is time we became what our name implies – united. If we continue to let those old forefathers’ sins direct our thoughts and actions, we run the risk of ending up like the Middle East.
I would point out also that these tribes you are so worried about paying taxes (which you and I have no choice about doing) fail to help out many of their own because they live off the reservations or don’t have enough Native American blood running in their veins.
A Racino would be great, not only to pay for the stadiums the baseball, football and basketball leagues think the taxpayers of this country owe them, on top of their ticket prices, but to spread the funds of a Racino or even a casino could do much for the welfare of all residences of Minnesota. Not to point out how much Minnesota money goes across the state line because their casinos are so much closer to home.
Let us all hope that one day we will truly be a united people of the United States of America.
So…being the big mouth that i am, of course had a retort for her. educating her on the reality of Native American Casino money and where it goes:
“To the Editor:
In response to Ms. Coonz, who commented on my previous letter.I am quite aware of the size of the Mystic Swamp Indian Reservation, as I grew up near there and was friends with some of the residents.
Since building the casino, they’ve greatly improved their standard of life from what was once a depressed trailer park to the functioning community it is now.
The Dakota nation has used this money not only to improve its standard of living, but it has given back outside the reservation as well. They helped build TCF stadium; and they’ve donated countless millions to emergency responders, education and health services. They have banned liquor in their casinos and attached businesses. They’ve offered scholarships; they’ve built rec centers, fire departments, daycare centers, education centers and environmental projects.
We want to spend the money from racinos on sports stadiums? Our government wants to take back the agreement they made with them? How would you like that?
Regardless, my letter was speaking out against state Rep. Bob Gunter’s comment using the name “Indians” and how they are getting a “free ride” in which they’ve improved their lives and the lives of other non-reservation citizens.
Think about how our governments have spent money and how they’ve spent theirs.
And so finally, Senator Bob Gunter responded to my editorial. He didn’t really apologize. He basically said, “well, everyone’s doing it, so what’s the big deal?” Nor did i really get any retort as to what he said previous:
“To the Editor:
A recent letter to the editor commented on my use of the word “Indian,” rather than “Native American” in a newspaper interview. The term “Indian” is used throughout state government. Both Governor Muck Dayton and former Governor Tim Plenty have been quoted in the media speaking about “Indian casinos” and “Indian gaming.” The group representing Native Americans at the Capital is called the “Indian Affairs Council,” and we have not heard of any plans to re-name that group or complaints about politicians not being politically correct in their terminology. No other legislator with whom I spoke was aware this term was no longer acceptable. If this was offensive to anyone, I apologize. I wish to show proper respect to all ethnic groups.
My quote on taxation was based on comments made by Governor Dayton indicating his thoughts on the Racino Bill that will be discussed this session. The bill being considered at this time does not tax the Native American casinos and would involve changes at Minnesota racetracks. Many of my constituents, however, have shared their frustration with Native Americans pulling in considerable untaxed casino profits, while receiving many of the same benefits that taxpayers receive, such as road and school maintenance. I believe that Minnesota and South Dakota are the only states that do no receive tax revenue from Native American casinos. In regard to funding a stadium, there are many ideas being considered; we are listening and doing our best to find an answer that will satisfy the largest majority without using tax dollars.
This subject is difficult to discuss in a sensitive way with the history of Native Americans in our country. I do not wish to be dismissive of anyone’s feelings and want to show respect and deference to all involved. There are varying opinions, however, and as an elected official my job is to give the same treatment and consideration to all in the present moment.
Bob Gunter, State Representative