Dangerous Gamble: Child Support, Casino Dividends and the Fate of the Indian Family
44 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2009
Date Written: October 8, 2009
Casino dividends have created significant wealth for many Indian tribes and have greatly improved the lives of their members. However, these benefits do not come without a price. Other scholars have noted the negative effects of gaming on tribal membership, culture, and identity but, there has been virtually no discussion regarding how casino gaming may hurt the Indian family. A recent case from the Florida Court of Appeals vividly illustrates how casino dividends can be used in ways that harm Indian families. In Cypress v. Jumper, the Florida court completely relieved an Indian father of any and all financial obligation to his children due to his children’s receipt of tribal casino dividends. In this article, I explore both the basis for, and ramifications of, this decision. I conclude that the court’s decision is not supported by previous case law permitting the consideration of children’s income but rather, is the result of the parties’ Indian ethnicity and the historic and continuing negative perceptions regarding Indian parents. I then explore the importance of child support and demonstrate that the benefits of paying child support are not simply monetary, but are also emotional and psychological. These additional benefits are especially important for Indian children who, given the centuries long assault on the Indian family, are more likely to experience family break down and the emotional and psychological effects of such breakdown than non-Indian children. Consequently, I argue that the Cypress decision creates a dangerous precedent that if followed, will allow Indian gaming to significantly harm Indian families.
Keywords: Indians, Native Americans, Family, Child Support, Casino, Gaming
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