The Grand Ronde Gamble

The independent campaign contributions of wealthy businessman Loren Parks has picked up quite a bit of play recently. However it would be unfair to overlook the 800 pound elephant in the living room. That elephant would be the Grand Ronde Tribe and their nearly half million dollar smear campaign. As of yesterday another six digit media buy has been placed by the Grand Ronde Tribe for play in the primary election.

Let me start by stating upfront that I am a supporter of Jason Atkinson and have been since last summer. I do have my issues with Kevin Mannix myself yet see some of these latest actions against him as unfair.

Secondly let me state that I am an enrolled member of a Northwest Indian Tribe and have friends throughout Indian country. I have been involved in the Tribal Sovereignty issue and off-reservation gaming in more than the casual sense.

So it is with those two circumstances in mind that I make this defense of Kevin Mannix.Â

The half million dollar campaign of deception by the Grand Ronde Tribe is merely using Saxton and Mannix as their public relations pawns. Like human press releases.

What the Grand Ronde’s are not telling people is that if Ron Saxton’s position were to become the prevailing position then you will get a casino located in a much more visible location in the gorge at the town of Hood River. Of course, that casino will be about 20 miles further down the road than the currently proposed Cascade Locks and thus more beneficial to the Grand Ronde’s, Spirit Mountain Casino. However these unfair commercials are not going to tell you that.

The question is whether or not Ron Saxton will tell you that?

The Cascade Locks Casino plan has moved to the federal level and basically out of the hands of any Governor that will be taking seat next January. Will Ron Saxton step up to the microphone and ask the Grand Ronde’s to be honest about this?

The Grand Ronde’s have had the support of many northwest Indian Tribes for issues that concerned them over the years yet now the Grand Ronde’s have decided to take a family dispute and air it like dirty laundry in the otherwise refreshing spring Oregon air. That is most unfortunate to many of us in Indian Country.Â

The fact that they are using a Republican primary to air that dirty laundry is unfortunate for Republican primary voters.

Finally, if there is going to be any change of policy on the gorge casino, at the state level, then it would require going back on promises made to the Warm Springs Indian Tribe. Is that the message Republicans want to send to Indians? Does the Republican party truly want to perpetuate the old idea that "white man speaks with forked tongue?"

Ron Saxton could put that addage to rest by using a small percentage of his hefty campaign war-chest to assure the other Oregon Indian Tribes that if elected he will stand by promises made. He could pull a line out of George Bush’s campaign "promises made should be promises kept."

That kind of action would in effect force the Grand Ronde Tribe to take their battle to where it belongs at this point. The federal level. Instead of trying to send a message to the feds by beating the ever-living heck out of our candidates in a Republican primary.