Thursday, December 22, 2011

More on the Shinnecock Intra-Tribal Feud and Mike Malik's Wedge

A story published 4.13.2011 in the Southampton Press about the run-off election for Shinnecock Tribal Trustee between Fred Bess and Lance Gumbs, gives some insight into the current circumstances at play among the Shinnecock Indians.
Mr. Bess and Mr. Gumbs have butted heads in recent years over the direction the tribe’s casino effort should take, and the split votes hint at rival camps within the tribe over the proposal. Some tribe members have said that Mr. Bess is seen as the favorite of financial backer Michael Malik—a casino developer from Detroit who has spent millions of dollars to bankroll the tribe’s marathon legal battles with the government—a designation that has hurt his support among some tribe members and boosted it with others.

Mr. Gumbs, on the other hand, has been critical of some statements by Mr. Bess that the tribe would be interested in developing a casino near New York City, even if it meant the facility was in the Catskills—a consideration thought by some to have come from Mr. Malik. Mr. Gumbs has said the tribe should be focusing on possible sites in Suffolk County and closer to the tribe’s Shinnecock Neck reservation so that tribe members can work there. (Complete Story)
Anyone who's studied the partnerships that the Detroiters have with various Native American partners will see that a common strategy is "divide and conquer." Pit one party against the other to do your bidding and then buy the love. Toe the line and the good times will roll (paychecks, party time and private planes), speak your mind or consider alternatives, you'll be cut-off, locked out and maybe even attacked.

It's all about ROI with little regard for the body-count that's left in the wake. Rules and laws, they're made to be broken -- don't look back. Mike Malik's a developer, a deal broker. He's not a steward or a life partner. He's in and he's out without much regard for the long term or relationships. Whatever it takes. Look no further than his personal life to understand that.

To learn more about the split among the Shinnecock, also read "Shinnecock Indian Nation Leaders Split on Casino Path," a story first published 7.07.2009 in the Southampton Press. Sure enough, those who play by the Detroiters' rules get flown around in grand style; those who don't, Mr. Gumbs, are on their own.

Mr. Gumbs vision is for a casino nearer to the Shinnecock Reservation. Mr. Malik's vision is for up to three off-reservation casinos as close to Manhattan as possible. Remember, he bought a $5.4 million Central Park West penthouse in 2010. And for the first seven years a casino is open,  Malik and crew can make up to 30% of the take. After that, it's not his concern. Remember, he's in and out.

One might argue that the feuding is futile because at this point, without an additional act of Congress, neither vision is going to become reality. The Shinnecock currently have no trust lands -- not even their existing Reservation -- and no likely path to secure trust lands at this point.  Indian gaming under IGRA is only allowed on Indian lands held in trust by the U.S. Secretary of Interior.  See also: "It's Carcieri not Malik that poses Bigger Problems for the Shinnecock Nation."

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