There were some remarks on the radio recently concerning the possibility of the Virgin Islands partnering with other non-V.I. entities in developing casinos on St. Croix. Included in the potential external partners discussed were Native American casino groups. Before considering such partnering, perhaps the Virgin Islands should take a good look at what has happened in the United States.
A classic example is in the state of Oklahoma. When a Native American tribe buys properties there for any purpose — a casino, a gas station, a resort, a "smoke-shop" — things happen.
The real estate the tribe purchases becomes a part of an independent Indian nation, no longer under the control of the state of Oklahoma. That new part of their nation now pays absolutely no local, state or U.S. taxes. The tribe establishes its own court system, education, etc. However, the tribe is still entitled to utilize the infrastructure of Oklahoma including roads, sewage, state planning, welfare, education, health, etc. — and participate in federal programs. The tribes even issue their own motor vehicle and drivers' licenses.
One wonders if the land which would be bought in the name of a Native American casino group in the Virgin Islands would become a part of that independent Native American tribal nation. If so, it would then no longer be under the jurisdiction or sovereignty of the Virgin Islands and would be completely outside of any control of the U.S. or V.I. government.
One would expect and hope that our Legislature, governor and all who advise them, such as the Finance commissioner, Office of Management and Budget director and officials of independent governmental agencies, would explore such matters before even considering, much less contacting, such entities as Native American casino groups.
Robert V. Vaughn
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