Indian Political Power

An example of California Indian political power may be seen in the passage of Proposition 5 in the November 1998 election. Instead of asserting a minority's right against the majority, most California Indian tribes united to appeal directly to the voters of the state. They mounted an effective public relations effort to convince the voters, against a well-financed opposition campaign, to allow casino games in Indian country.

Despite the fact that former Governor Pete Wilson opposed the measure and had attempted to force all California tribes to accept a uniform gaming compact without Nevada-style games, Indian political power triumphed at the polls with 62 percent approval.

Subsequently, Prop 5 was declared unconstitutional by the California Supreme Court. But efforts by tribal leaders, a new governor, Gray Davis, and the state legislature restored much of the tribal authority to operate Nevada-style games in casinos in Indian country. For a detailed analysis see California Indian Casinos

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