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Antell, Blevins, and Jensen present a useful description of the policy conflicts between Indian casino gambling and tribal sovereignty. However, they fail to distinguish casino gaming as a form of community versus economic development in terms of general American Indian tribal community well-being. Legal tension certainly exists between the states (mandated by federal legislation to develop gambling compacts with the tribes) and the tribal governments (regarded by federal treaties as sovereign nations). However, previous literature has also noted the cultural tension between the establishment of Indian casino gambling and the distribution of profits within the tribes. Moreover, the increasing social psychological problems of compulsive gambling have been largely ignored as a tribal problem in justifying economic benefits. In addition, Antell, Blevins, and Jensen have neglected to address the conflicting definitions of "Indian" and, hence, not only how but who tribal gaming enterprises benefit. Evaluation studies that can secure the cooperation of the tribes and employ rigorous research designs are needed to determine whether or not Indian casino gambling is a long-term, successful community development strategy in tribal terms.
The topic of Antell, Blevins, and Jensen's article is long overdue and very timely within the field of community development. The authors have identified several factors that make Indian casino gambling a controversial and complex community development question. One is the "trustee" relationship of the sovereign tribes to the paternalistic U.S. federal government that has forced tribes into a capitalist entrepreneurial economic system (M. Jorgensen, 1997; Stanley, 1978). Embedded in this relationship is the historic conflict over tribal "wardship" versus tribal sovereignty (see Lurie, 1999). The second factor is whether the current acceptance of tribal sovereignty has evolved to a point where the federal government can finally serve the tribes in economic efforts that truly enhance tribal values and physical well-being (Cornell & Kalt, 1998). The third factor, as Antell, Blevins, and Jensen well describe, is the extent to which the states, which are mandated by the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, contribute to promoting or inhibiting tribal sovereignty in the case of casino gambling (Bee, 1999). The final factor, and one the authors need to more adequately address, is the degree to which the tribes have enhanced or relinquished tribal community values for federally controlled, economically driven, individualistic ones as reflected in casino gambling (Bee, 1999; Lurie, 1986).
In the absence of primary data evaluating the success of Indian casino gaming, Antell, Blevins, and Jensen's argument can be viewed as an important attempt to review the literature on the impacts of national policy on Indian gaming--first, as a test of tribal sovereignty, and second, as a case of successful community development. The authors provide an adequate description of Indian gaming as a test of sovereignty, especially in terms of the tribes and the Western states. However, they have not presented a convincing argument for tribal casinos as a case of successful community development. Their argument could be strengthened conceptually and methodologically, particularly as they argue that their paper examines Indian casino gambling from the perspective of its benefits and costs to Indians.
COMMUNITY VERSUS ECONOMIC …