The April 13 Opinion piece by John Hughes, "Casinos no salvation for native Americans," raised important issues about the poverty faced by American Indians but offered no solutions. He described how historically Indians were assigned reservation land that was remote and often lacking in resources, and how it is unfortunate that today some tribes are turning to gambling for revenue. He described gambling as "pernicious and lacking in redeeming moral foundation."
As I understand it, Indians have not been eagerly rushing to gambling, but have turned to it after many years of neglect by the federal government, which is obligated by treaties and laws to provide basic services to those on reservations.
Faced with governmental indifference and, in some cases, error, native Americans have tried a variety of strategies to maintain their sovereignty and way of life, and gambling is one that has paid off in some measure for some tribes. They will continue to try in various ways to improve their lives, and if Mr. Hughes has suggestions for employment and other assistance for tribes, he should list them instead of just saying that visiting a reservation is a "compelling jolt to the conscience."
Chevy Chase, Md.
Regarding your April 14 editorial "What Is Asia?": Asia just can't fuse. Though Asia represents a third of the world's population, there are too many political differences and hostile histories to have a concrete economic integration. As a Korean living in China, I experience this every day.
Since Japan's occupation of Korea, Koreans' hatred for the island country is permanent. In fact, that hatred is increasing since the two nations are disputing over Dokdo, small islands off the coast of Korea. (Editor's note: Japan calls them the Takeshima Islands.)
Recently, there have been anti-Japanese protests in all of China's main cities. China's enmity toward Japan is so great that the Chinese authorities, infamous for suppressing all kinds of movements, overlooked the anti-Japanese ones.
Political strife prevents unity among Asian nations. Competition that arises after the establishment of economic integration will aggravate hostility anyway.
Peter Jong-Woo Jeong
I am writing in response to the April 6 Opinion piece by John Rakis, "How to jam prison's revolving door." As a prisoner in the Washington State Penitentiary, I thought that perhaps I could share some valid views on the topic.
We must begin with the premise that crime is a social problem. Sociologists will tell you that in most cases, dysfunctional individuals reflect a dysfunctional society. If we wish to eradicate crime from our society, then society must eliminate the conditions that create crime and sustain it.
This means that there needs to be well-paying jobs available for felons when they are released from prison. The fact is that most criminals don't enjoy committing crimes, but they do so because it seems like the most profitable option available to them.
And lastly, crime must be solved through community action. Particularly in the inner cities where people feel most powerless, people must have more control in shaping their destinies. Those who live in a community should own and control their community. The people can no longer wait for the government to fulfill empty promises; it is up to us to solve our problems. That's what a democracy is: a society where the people have the power to govern their own lives.
Walla Walla, Wash.
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