Whenever American Indian policy is discussed, including our state's present negotiations with 31 tribes covered by the state's gambling compact, most writers tend to sugar over the fact that the state of Oklahoma is sui generis in any such discussions.

As the final resting place for dozens and dozens of tribes, which were urged to relocate here at the point of a federal bayonet and the Indian Removal Act, Oklahoma will always be unique.

So when writers compare Oklahoma's compact negotiations to those of California, Minnesota, Oregon or Nebraska, I wonder: Did they remember to ask how many dozens of removal tribes their compacts covered or how many hundreds of casinos these tribes have launched?

In many, if not most, of these states, the answer would be none, once again leaving Oklahoma unique with its dozens of removal tribes and its hundreds of casinos.

Until these writers recognize Oklahoma's uniqueness, any comparisons of Indian policy between the states are apples to oranges.

Editor's note: The state and tribes are not in negotiation at this point. Gov. Stitt states he wants to renegotiate the terms when the compacts expire in December. The tribes argue the compacts automatically extend and say they are not interested in renegotiation.


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