May 21, 2005
A historical posting on the Cascade Locks No Casino Web site has drawn a sharp rebuke for “racism” from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.
The headline of the controversial material was “Original reason Indians were removed.” The text contained diary excerpts of the battle between the Yakama tribe and both soldiers and settlers. According to historical accounts, that war broke out after the military attempted to starve the Native Americans by cutting them off from their fishing trade on the Columbia River. Contained in No Casino’s posting were written references to Native Americans as “hostiles” who needed to learn “to respect the United States government.”
“It’s outrageous. What were they thinking? It appears that Mr. Randall (No Casino founder) wanted to inflame anti-Indian sentiments with his biased and disgusting references to the history of conflict between Native Americans and Americans of European ancestry. That account is untrue and encourages discrimination,” said Greg Leo, spokesperson for the Warm Springs.
However, Randall said posting the writings about the Indian wars of 1855-56 was only a “mistake.” He said the information taken from the History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington 1889 by Janine M. Bork was never previewed. And that his intent had been only to provide background on the era when the Gorge tribes ceded their lands to the federal government.
“I feel really badly about the whole thing, it was just an oversight on my part and I don’t have a racist bone in my body — people who know me would laugh about that,” he said.
However, Cascade Locks City Manager Robert Willoughby believes No Casino’s action has reflected badly on the entire community. Especially because the text centers on the Yakima Indian’s battles with white settlers and hardly refers to the Warm Springs at all — except to say that they were friendly.
“In what possible way do these events relate to the Warm Springs’ desire to build a casino in Cascade Locks? The only possible connection I can see is to inflame peoples’ passions against Indians. If they truly believe that the long-term effects of gambling would be detrimental to Cascade Locks then there is no explanation for how this material that refers to ‘naked savages bent on murdering innocent white settlers and miners’ makes that point,” said Willoughby.
Although this week Willoughby was accused of “attacking” No Casino with his open criticism of the posting, he denied that charge. He said his remarks were not personal and only questioned the appropriateness of the Web site material. His concerns were aired at a meeting of the City Council and No Casino members immediately raised allegations of slander. “I think it just underscores the need for all of us to just stick to the issues and use appropriate arguments for our differing points of view,” said Willoughby.
Randall believes that Willoughby is trying to gain political leverage from the unfortunate listing. He said it was pulled as soon as the content was discovered, and the issue should now be laid to rest.
“It’s being misconstrued and taken out of context to tar and feather us. It wouldn’t matter who wanted a casino in Cascade Locks, we are opposed to to it for social, moral, environmental and economic reasons,” said Randall.
Leo said even the controversial text posted by No Casino highlights the peaceful nature of the Warm Springs. He said their citizenship has since been proven by the fact that they have served in the military during every American war or conflict since their relocating to the reservation.
“We need to be the kind of society where we don’t inflame hatred between different racial groups. This has been a very sad event for us but we’re determined to stay on the high road,” said Leo.”