Fear of opening the door to expanded gambling has doomed a proposed legislative study of granting state recognition to native American tribes. At a meeting yesterday, members of the House and Senate committees on state agencies and governmental affairs decided not to take up the matter.
A state Department of Finance and Administration official pricked the interest of lawmakers yesterday. He cautioned that state recognition of Indian tribes and groups could hasten federal recognition, which could open the door to Indian casinos and smoke shops on tribal land without the state's consent.
Washington historian and lobbyist Mike Lawson urged the panel to consider recognizing indigenous native American tribes of Arkansas. He said the step would honor their history and acknowledge their cultural contributions to the state. Official recognition would allow their tribal entities to work for improved education, health and economic development.
DFA lawyer John Theis said state recognition of a native American tribe carries no state tax benefits for the entity unless the state also adopts such a benefit. But he said federal recognition could carry significant tax breaks and benefits.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)