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FEATURE In Search Of The Tigua BEING SOME BRIEF OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING THE INDIANS OF EL PASO, THE TEXIANS OF AUSTIN, AND THE SUNDRY DEVOTEES OF BREAKFAST BINGO. by Karen Olsson 1. THE GOVERNOR i ni n mid-May, even as clouds of thick, grey Mexican smoke were drifting over Austin, casting the entire city into a torpor, a dis turbing letter arrived at the Governor’s mansion. An expedition had been commissioned to travel some 800 miles to the West, and latter-day explorer Kimberly Kiplin, of the Texas Lottery Commission, had discovered a newly-founded Cibola at “Speaking Rock”: the Casino of the Tigua Indians. Reporting back to the Governor, Kiplin wrote of untold riches cascading through hundreds of slot machines and complained that this aboriginal wealth is in fact the rightful property of the Crown: “Since Texas law prohibits casino-type gaming, I do not understand how the Tiguas’ casinotype activities are lawful.” One can only imagine what tremors of moral consternation must have stricken the Governor upon reading such a sentence. Surely George W. Bush who just a moment earlier had been, perhaps, drowsily reviewing his latest remarks on the slight increase in respiratory complaints due to airborne particulates awoke with a jolt. As he is a careful and benevolent ruler known to seek frequent counsel, the Governor must have called for a round of closed-door meetings, strategic deliberations, extended phone calls, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, before taking action. Nevertheless, it was not long before he summoned the capitol scribes, and extended a long, accusatory finger Westward through the Smog. On Sunday, the seventeenth of May, townspeople could be seen scurrying out into the miserable haze to retrieve their Austin American-Statesmans, then retreating into their air-conditioned kitchens to read an extensive report on the Governor’s latest mission, by Capitol Bureau Chief Ken Herman. “I don’t think they [the Tigua] ought to be having casinostyle gambling in their buildings,” Bush declared to Herman. “There ought not to be casino gambling in the state of Texas, any shape or form of it.” Although the Governor assured Herman that his decision to attack Speaking Rock was not politically motivated \(“My job is to enforce the law. I can’t make political decisions when it comes to enforcing diately began speculating as to his motives. Bush’s denunciation of to the Baptist bloc of the Republican Party \(this according to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Garry Mauro and Tom Diamond, the partner and current campaign contributor of the Governor’s, who Karen Olsson owns several Las Vegas casinos that stand to lose Texas business because of Speaking Rock \(according to San Antonio Express-News Lottery Commission, which likewise might lose business to the Maybe El Paso developers asked Bush to do it: the Tigua are undeniably a litigious group, having filed various claims of titular and usage rights to large tracts of land, and to 100 miles of canals and ditches in El Paso County. This has alarmed area property owners and title insurers, since new deeds now note that property may be subject to claims by “any Indian or Indian tribe, including but not limited to the Tigua Indian Tribe of El Paso.” Or maybe Bush wants to quash a potential source of campaign funds for Democrats: the Tigua gave $10,000 to State Representato other El Paso candidates. The first three explanations, for the moment, are more likely than the last two, since Bush’s War on Gambling has not just targeted the Tigua. Back in November of 1996 just as the Tigua were about to introduce slot machines at Speaking Rock the Governor’s general counsel wrote to U.S. Attorney Bill Blagg of San Antonio, asking that he investigate Indian casinos. \(The Kickapoo tribe had opened a Blagg did not act, and Bush turned his attention to the thousands of “eight-liner” gambling machines that have proliferated in truck stops and shopping plazas throughout the state. Last year he unsuccessfully tried to persuade the Legislature to outlaw the machines, 8 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JULY 3, 1998