After languishing for 150 years in the backwash of economic development in the Green Bay area, the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin (hereinafter “the Tribe”) is experiencing its first generation of prosperity. The prosperity is the result of a bingo and casino gambling franchise, hard work, and a good location. The Tribe is using gaming proceeds to build a diversified economic base on the reservation, portending a bright future for its members. The new prosperity is having substantial impacts on both the Oneidas and their non-Indian neighbors in metropolitan Green Bay. Some of those impacts are very positive. Others are not. This report identifies and examines those effects.
The analysis is timely. The compact between the Oneidas and the State of Wisconsin that establishes the conditions under which gaming takes place on the Oneidas’ reservation lapses in 1998. It is being renegotiated now. An assessment of the effects of gaming on the Oneidas and the larger community, therefore, should be of im- mediate interest.
The importance of the story, however, goes far beyond the implications for a renewed compact. It has to do with how the Oneidas are using their earnings to secure a prosperous long-term future, providing a model for other indigenous people. It has to do, too, with the exceptional efforts of Oneida tribal leaders and local officials to work out ways to deal pragmatically with pressing financial and governmental issues. Finally, it has to do with how the Federal government is essentially ignoring the local economic, social, and political effects of its Indian treaties on non-Indian communities.