The Flying Lark, a ‘game, entertainment and dining destination’, is set to open at Grants Pass this winter as part of the reopening of Grants Pass Downs racecourse. The entertainment center touts the historic 250 horse racing machines (HHRs) it hopes to use as a major selling point to attract guests, ultimately plaguing Oregon’s native tribal leaders.
“No matter where you are in Oregon today, remember you are on Indigenous land,” Governor Kate Brown’s official statement read on October 11, 2021, Indigenous Peoples Day. “Today, we pay tribute to the nine federally recognized tribes of Oregon and honor all the Indigenous peoples who have long called these sacred lands their home.”
Despite such words, the state government refuses to intervene as one of the Dutch Bros. co-founders, Travis Boersma, attempts to embezzle income from Oregon’s nine tribes.
Boersma signed a 50-year lease with Josephine County in 2019 in an effort to save the horse racing industry in Oregon. To attract more visitors, however, Boersma plans to fill the facility with HHR, which are slot-like terminals that allow a guest to bet on reruns of races. The Flying Lark, if the Oregon Racing Commission approves its request, will feature an updated form of HHR that looks more like a slot machine than its predecessor, having been produced by related brands and having completely random results. . With such a large number of terminals, the Flying Lark might as well be a casino.
However, it is not recognized as such as it would be against Oregon law, which criminalizes private casinos.
Native American tribes, however, are considered sovereign nations, so certain state and federal laws do not apply to them. As long as they are built and operated within reserve limits, gambling facilities such as casinos are legal under Oregon law. This idea originated in the 1970s when Native Americans began operating bingo halls to raise tribal funds – modern tribal casinos are now forced to reinvest their income in the community in which they live.
Tribal chiefs of six indigenous tribes – the Confederate Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw; the Confederate tribes of Grand Ronde; the Confederate tribes of the Siletz Indians; the Confederate tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation; The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians and the Klamath Tribes – released an official statement regarding the use of HHRs on October 6, 2021. The six leaders cite a study that estimated that 250 HHRs “would reduce tribal gaming revenue by $ 6 million. dollars ”in the first year.
This is money that would go towards many of the services that tribal governments provide to their people, including health care, education, and basic infrastructure – services that are not allocated by the federal government. By installing HHR’s grand sum in the Flying Lark, Boersma will essentially redirect the $ 6 million into her own pocket, adding to her current net worth of $ 2.5 billion.
Should we, a university that begins almost every presentation with a reconnaissance of the Kalapuya land, let this financial theft happen without protest? Ashley Younger, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and president of the Native American Student Union (NASU) at the UO, does not consider the actions of the “budding casino man” excusable.
“I always think of the way people say that money is the root of all evil. I do not believe it at all ; I think money brings out the bad in people, but it has to be there already for that to happen, ”Younger said. “If you don’t mind exploiting someone’s culture, or trying to steal them, it’s not because you’ve been offered money. You already had that in you.
The fact that plans to use HHRs within the Flying Lark continue despite the tribal outcry over it shows this “evil” within Boersma. He prefers to add to his overflowing bank account rather than respect the Native Americans.
“I’m fed up with people from vulnerable groups – like people who live on reserves and who are supposed to have some dignity after centuries of exploitation, murder and dehumanization – are being completely raped by people. who are just trying to make money. “Younger said.” It’s one of the few things we have or are supposed to have. “
Greed-driven Americans have taken aboriginal people with no regard for their collective livelihoods since before the nation was founded, and we must break the cycle of harmless exploitation once and for all.
The OU student body must support the native tribes of Oregon as well as our NASU and boycott Dutch Bros. Coffee until Flying Lark withdraws its request to use HHR or the request is formally rejected by the Oregon Racing Commission.