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I could write all day and half the night about the proposed casino in Jamul: about the greedy, Minnesota company bankrolling the project; about its horrific impacts on the safety of Highway 94; about is lack of fire protection and permits; about the bogus claim that the casino will equal “self-sufficiency.”

What I really want to write is this:

I wish you could talk to Walter Rosales in person.

Walter doesn’t talk much about his predicament. He’s a quiet man and often seems deep in thought. How much would you feel like talking if the nation you helped to establish abandoned you?

Walter used to be a member of the Jamul Indian Village until the Village gave him the boot. He is opposed to the sprawling casino complex the Village wants to build on its tiny, six acre reservation. 

Walter just turned 60. He was born on the land that is now the reservation. His family and six others were deeded property from the Daley family in 1978.  Walter helped the families attain reservation status from the federal government. That was 1981. Walter held the ballot box when the Village passed its first constitution.

Walter’s brother is buried on the reservation. The ashes of numerous relatives have been scattered at the site. He can’t stomach building a casino over those graves and doesn’t think the casino is right for Jamul.

Walter is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and served in Vietnam.  I imagine he knows what a battle is.

Eight years ago, when the casino started gaining momentum, Walter and his cousin broke ranks from the Village. They challenged the leadership of the council in court. They also challenged the ownership of the land, cases that are still pending.

Ostracized from the Village, Walter went about his business in his home on his ancestral land — the land of his great-great grandmother — until last March.   

Then came eviction day. A day filled with chaos and pepper spray. He’d heard it was coming. To make way for the casino, Walter and his cousin were forcibly removed from their homes by contract officers calling themselves the Jamul Tribal Police. It was all over the news. Several days later the bulldozers came. Walter’s home was flattened. It was all over the news too.  

You can think the Village has a sovereign right to build its casino. You can think Walter is on the losing side of “majority rules.” You can even buy the Village’s propaganda that I only oppose the casino because I happen to live in Jamul.  

I still wish you could talk to Walter Rosales in person.

Walter, this post is for you.

— DIANNE JACOB

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