Although Indian gaming dominates the headlines – when it comes to headlines about American Indian tribes, that is – the fact is that tribes and tribal members care about many other issues, too. The outcome of the 2006 midterm election, as well as certain key races, has a tremendous potential impact in Indian Country.
In this article from Native American Times, you can begin to see why tribes and tribal associations monitored the election closely, and sought to influence critical races. In particular, congressional committees and subcommittees control programmatic and appropriations decisions.
For example, the Montana Senate race sent Conrad Burns (R) down to defeat. Burns chaired the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, which deals with programs in Indian Country. In Washington, Maria Cantwell (D) faced Mike McGavick (R) for a Senate seat. Senator Cantwell has been a strong supporter of Indian Country and sits on the Indian Affairs Committee. In the House, Richard Pombo (R) has been the Chair of the Committee on Resources, the principal committee of jurisdiction over Indian Affairs in the U.S. House, for the last four years. Pombo, of course, recently led the charge on an unsuccessful attempt to reform the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act to severely curtail, if not do away with, so-called off-reservation gaming.
On the whole, there is little doubt that Democratic control of the House and Senate will cause many tribes to breathe a sigh of relief. After all, there’s much more for them to worry about than Indian gaming.