Remembering the Legacy Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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January 16, 2023

Washington, D.C. – January 26, 2023 – The Indian Gaming Association celebrates and honors the legacy of one of the most significant dynamic, dedicated and passionate leaders in our history – one who stood for equality for all and died defending that message – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The courage, strength, and vision of the civil rights leader will never be forgotten, and even today, we continue to look to his spirit as a guiding light as our nation continues racial and economic disparities.

Yesterday, Dr. King Jr. would have celebrated his 94th birthday. Today, we reflect on his legacy of non-violence as we continue our fight for social justice; envisions in Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech delivered 60 years ago, we also acknowledge that much work remains.

Our country suffers deep divisions. Income inequality reaches new heights. In 2022, the United States suffered a sharp rise in threats of violence against persons based on their color, religious belief, and sexual orientation. We must all stand united in the face of these perils.

Dr. King practiced his preachings that in the face of injustice, no moral person can stay silent, and he paid for it with his life. King said, “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there ‘is’ such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”

King’s words ring as true today as ever.

Dr. King spoke for every community facing injustice and discrimination. In his book, ‘Why We Can’t Wait,’ Dr. King pinned the origins of racism in America on the historical injustices inflicted on Native people.

He said, “Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine of the original American, of which the Indian was an inferior race.” he said, “From the sixteenth century forward, blood flowed in the battles of racial supremacy. We are perhaps the only nation which tried, as a matter of national policy to wipe out its Indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed, even today, we have not permitted ourselves to reject or feel remorse for this shameful episode. Our literature, our films, our drama, and our folklore all exalt it.”

As Native Americans, we continue to honor and revere Dr. King for his commitment to justice and a voice for all Americans, including the sacred right to vote.

In his 1957 “Give Us The Ballot” speech, Dr. King stressed the importance of equal voting rights. King said, “So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote, I do not possess myself. I cannot make up my mind — it is made up for me. I cannot live as a democratic citizen, observing the laws I have helped to enact — I can only submit to the edict of others.”

While equal access to voting rights continues to be under attack, the 2022 midterm elections do provide some spark of hope for our future.

On November 8, 2022, Indian Country again went to the polls, honoring the words of Dr. King and doing the work for our ancestors who secured voting rights for us all. The Native vote once again played a pivotal role in many tight races.

What was even more encouraging is the phenomenal turnout of the young, new generation of voters. They showed their power and their voice at the polls and through their organizing efforts. Their energy is truly inspiring.

Our Seventh Generation Principle is based on an ancient Haudenosaunee Iroquois philosophy that the decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world seven generations into the future. Time continues to prove that the pendulum is swinging, and the next generation – today’s generation is more than ready for their place.

While we are encouraged that our next generations are actively working to follow the teachings of Dr. King and our ancestors, we all must do our part. Each of us has a responsibility to continue to help move this world forward in a dignified and unified way, inspired by the momentum of great leaders of change who stood for us – before us, like Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Indian Gaming Association commemorates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his example as a peaceful yet assertive advocate for equality. We honor Dr. King for his commitment to justice and equality. Let us all work to bend the arc of the moral universe towards justice and achieving Dr. King’s Dream, and ensure that all indigenous peoples’ cultures, customs, languages, and ways of life are honored and respected.