Sunday, February 27, 2011

Breaking Biased News: A Native American Owned Business Has a “Staggering” Advantage Over Other Businesses -- UPDATED

After reading an article in the Buffalo News paper about casino gaming and the on-going fight between the Citizens for a Better Buffalo and the Seneca Nation of Indians, it occurred to me that until there is an honest and logical debate, these fights will continue and the Buffalo News will continue printing stories that are not helpful with bringing people together and solving this area’s primary problems.

It seems there are three distinct groups in this community when it applies to the topic of Native American owned casinos.

Group 1 – Those who totally oppose Native American Gaming.
Group 2 – Those who totally support Native American Gaming.
Group 3 – Those who do not like the idea of Native American’s supporting its communities with gaming, but value the rights they have to do so and without it, their communities would be less self-sustainable.

Groups 1 & 2 have easy solutions to their problem. Group 3’s issues are much more complicated and require a larger effort of problem solving. I will consider myself a Group 3 member. For those who have the sole agenda of denying Native America’s the right to own a legal, successful business, which supports its community, can expect to be opposed by Groups 2 & 3. If those folks in Group 1 want to achieve their overall mission, join Group 3 and begin working towards a long-term solution of Native American sovereignty and self-determination. However, if your Group 1 goal is to destroy a legal Native American business by any means necessary, similar to the dishonorable acts that where recently printed in the Buffalo News paper, expect a larger group of opponents. 

I won’t or can’t document the entire historical aspects of all the disagreements. However, I will state a few plain facts. It appears the Seneca Nation is operating a business that is successful and legal. Citizens for a Better Buffalo have spent a lot of time and money trying to stop the Seneca’s business from operating.

Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel

A very important fact to remember is that the Seneca business is a legal operation. The Seneca’s have played by the rules. Not their own made up rules, but rules forced on any business in Buffalo.

The News Story  

The Buffalo News recently published a story about how Citizens for a Better Buffalo have gained allies on Buffalo’s City Council in trying to shut down the Seneca’s business. That story is sprinkled with comments that should scare some folks and cause readers to negatively view a Native American business. I can understand how they were able to gain supporters on Buffalo’s City Council using these tactics. Here are a few of those comments:

“…expanded casino will prove a ‘huge money-sucking vacuum’ in a city already struggling with high poverty.”

“What we rarely hear about is the devastating negative economic impact that research shows occurs when a tax-exempt casino is placed in what is claimed to be sovereign land within an urban setting.”

“Seneca casinos in Western New York gave away $42 million in ‘loss leaders’ over a nine-month period.”

“They give away more rooms per night than the Hyatt and the Adam's Mark combined,” “…No one can compete.”

“That pales in comparison to the social costs of gambling…”

“They have created a culture in this community of gambling as a way of life…which I think is destructive.”

 “…because Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino is located in a poor neighborhood of a poor city, its presence will only exacerbate poverty.”

“The explosive growth of gambling in New York State and Western New York in particular, is disastrous for people with low incomes.”

“A large percentage of gambling revenue comes from problem gamblers, and many problem gamblers are people with low incomes.”

“These damn dirty Indians will soon be just as prosperous as the rest of us -- dating our daughters and trying to change our great way of life.”

Sorry, that last quote was mine. I thought I would just sum up how I view the main notion behind the other quotes!

Most of these comments are supported by a “report” conducted by Niagara University professor Steven H. Siegel. According to the Buffalo News paper, Mr. Siegel is “contending that city leaders should be wary of plans to expand the downtown casino even on a smaller scale than originally envisioned. He contends that the Senecas effectively enjoy a 15 percent price advantage over non-Indian competitors in the hospitality industry. He called the advantage staggering.”


Mr. Siegel’s Niagara University bio:
Following 10 years working in various operational and management positions within the hospitality industry, Professor Siegel is now completing his 31st year on the faculty of the College of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Niagara University. His teaching interests focus upon the areas of strategic management, finance, and analytical methods as applied to the industry. His research interests explore the competitive advantages that Indian run casinos, with hotels and food and beverage outlets, located on sovereign Indian land, have over local hospitality establishments.

A couple of very important points that must be addressed:
1. The reliability and validity of Mr. Siegel’s study;
2. Staggering, unfair advantage. 

#1 Point

I contacted Mr. Siegel and asked for his report and/or study that this entire article is based on. I would like to learn more about the study’s research design and methods. He has not yet replied to my request. Mr. Siegel has a master degree in business administration. This is a very good degree for someone who wants to master the skills associated with working in a business. It is not a degree to have if someone wants to conduct scientific research. If you are interested in conducting scientific research, a PhD is best.

Now… please know, someone could be a good business administrator with a PhD and someone could do good research with a master degree in business. However, the educational training and skill development would not match up. For instance, I have a couple of college degrees. I’ve watched, on many occasions, our dog groomer, groom our dogs. I thought to myself, “I can do this job and save some money.” As part of my expanded dog grooming training I watched several step-by-step YouTube videos on how to groom dogs. Afterwards, I went to the local pet store and spend about $120 on a do-it-yourself dog grooming kit. That kit came with an instructional video that I watched as well. After all this preparation, I felt highly trained, educated, and confident I could successfully groom our dogs. Update: I have a lightly used dog grooming kit for sale, if anyone is interested.

Mr. Siegel is a teacher, and after 31 years probably a good one. However, it is my opinion that his education and training have not appropriately prepared him to be a scientific researcher. Also, I have been unable to find any peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts or discovered any funded scientific works by Mr. Siegel related to his research. Peer-reviewed research manuscripts and/or obtaining federal research funds best indicate that the research plan has been at least minimally scrutinized. (And a little, gentle advice for Mr. Siegel, please consider editing your bio by removing the word – Indian. Please consider using American Indian or Native American).

Let’s look specifically at the report’s stated outcomes. Basically, Mr. Siegel reports that Native Americans have a staggering advantage over non-Native American businesses. Other hospitality businesses can’t compete, he says. Hotels can’t fill rooms, sports bars lose customers, HSBC arena loses money, movie theaters lose money, etc. So this leads me to the second conflicting aspect of this argument.

#2 Point

First, the fairness issue? The Seneca business is operating by the law of the land, rules that every business operates. It’s not like the Seneca created these laws. So, the “unfair” label is, well…an unfair, unwarranted description.

But the main conflict in the article’s position is that the Seneca business destroys communities that are already dilapidated, neglected, and poverty burdened and that only poor people enter the Seneca business. I do not understand the association between the Seneca business hurting poor people and its advantages over other local businesses, happening concurrently.

Are Mr. Siegel and Citizens for a Better Buffalo saying that very poor people were spending their money on other hospitality businesses around Buffalo prior to the arrival of the Seneca business? Were all the poor people in Buffalo spending their weekends at the Hyatt and the Adam's Mark hotel? Were the people from the “poor neighborhood of a poor city” using their limited money going to movies, eating out at the upscale downtown Buffalo restaurants and going to hockey games at HSBC arena?  

If the Seneca business only attracts low income people, how do they have a “staggering” advantage over other hospitality businesses? Were the low income people spending all of their money on other entertainment/hospitality businesses before the Seneca’s arrived, and now that they have arrived, these folks avoid all other businesses except the Seneca’s business?

Please allow me to remind you of some of the article’s comments:

“The explosive growth of gambling in New York State and Western New York in particular, is disastrous for people with low incomes.”

“A large percentage of gambling revenue comes from problem gamblers, and many problem gamblers are people with low incomes.”

“They give away more rooms per night than the Hyatt and the Adam's Mark combined,” “…No one can compete.”

Article’s Logical Conclusion

I am confused how the Seneca business hurts low income people, its only customers, while disadvantaging other businesses unless low income people were spending their money elsewhere on entertainment/hospitality activities.

Let’s have an honest, logic debate about how to best improve the lives of people who live around Buffalo. Let’s also have an honest, logical debate about how Native Americans can best sustain their right of sovereignty and operate a legal business. This entire article’s argument is not logical, reliable or valid. An unbiased scientific researcher might have dealt with these illogical issues. Unbiased Citizens for a Better Buffalo should address their concerns honestly and logically. Finally, An unbiased Buffalo City Council should not base their decisions on a biased, unscientific report. All groups should find a way to join together in a common cause of increasing the health and wellness of all people in our communities.

Peace, DAP

UPDATE: I have contacted the writers of the Buffalo News story asking them to comment. Below is their response.

I have also contacted Steven Siegel and Bruce Jackson with the Citizens for a Better Buffalo offering an opportunity to respond.

From The Buffalo News:
Dr. Patterson:

Thank you for sending along your blog. You should consider condensing
your thoughts and submitting them as a letter to the editor or a
submission to our MY View column.

I must say, however, that I find no basis for your view that the story
was biased. The group issued a report, brought it to the Council, and we
wrote about it. No more, no less.

But I am sure your thoughts would be very welcome.

Bob McCarthy

Greetings, Dr. Patterson.
Thanks for your note.
I'm the city government reporter at The News. My main contribution to this article focused on some Common Council members' concerns that an agreement between the city and Seneca Gaming was being breached. My involvement with this story had little to do with the study, which is the main focus of your blog.
Thanks for taking the time to reach out to me. I appreciate it.
Brian Meyer

Monday, February 21, 2011

Please Don’t Allow Your Current and Past Life to Destroy Your Future Life

“Having a Purpose in Life Gives All Other Things Purpose”

A few years back, maybe 20 or so now, I overheard a conversation that has stayed with me ever since. I was waiting in line for a morning coffee and two men, one older and the other my age at that time, where chatting in front of me. I didn’t catch the beginning of their conversation, nor was I around to get the ending. However, I did pick up on an assertion coming from the older gentleman. He said, “When you find your purpose in life – it gives all other things purpose.”

When I first overheard this, I thought about that conversation and what must have lead to such a strange statement. Until then and even after, I have not heard those same words or concept from anyone else. That man’s decree swirled around in my head for several hours, turning into days and then weeks. I’m not sure, but I think the reason that man’s proclamation was so impacting on me, was that, at that time in my life, I had been living in a homeless/treatment facility for over a year.

I’m not sure about anyone else who has lived in a homeless program, but for me, I continuously wondered about my purpose in life. Was my purpose, like so many other men in that building, to be a long-term homeless man traveling between shelters ending up with my name in the newspaper seeking the next nearest living relative? That really wasn’t my overall ambition at the time because I was attending a local community college. Boy, those two worlds as very far apart. My days would be spent on a college campus full of fear trying to assimilate as a typical college student, followed by concerns about making curfew back at the facility.

I used to think, “If that old man is correct, then this could not be my purpose. And if it is not my purpose, what purpose would finally give purpose to all this? If that old man was right about finding your purpose in life gives all other things purpose – what the heck kind of purpose awaits me after living in this place for two years?” This is why that man’s statement so altered me. I could not come up with a scenario that would provide a later life purpose for living in a homeless program.

It was very hard to imagine that someday I would look back on this time and state, “Oh…so that’s why my life was this way and I lived in this program.” Believe me when I say this, having to smell the pungent stench coming out of my roommate’s shoes is not a design for a purpose driven life. Those shoes were already foul and abandoned, for all the right reasons, when he found them.

Well, as it turns out, that older man’s statement 20 years ago has merit. It seems, finding a purpose, places all past experiences as indispensable and very much needed in order to have arrived to this present day. 

A life that has finally found purpose, would not want to change one single day of that past life. All of those past days were required in order to find this current day’s purposeful life. A life that has purpose is so overwhelmingly grateful to have found this purpose, any thoughts of altering the past is quickly retracted as those alterations would have risked not having found this purpose (Note: I had to re-read that past sentence a few times to make sure I understood what I just said).

Regardless where anyone is currently, when someone finds their purpose in life – it gives all other things purpose. Folks don’t have to believe that statement and I’m sure there are many that don’t/won’t. What I hope, is that folks who have not found their purpose, believes that there is a purpose for every life.

The path on the way to that purpose, regardless of where it is or begins, is the exact route needed to get there.  If you do believe this and think you will never find a purpose, relax, you are right where you are supposed to be. Enjoy the journey. 

Peace, DAP

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Data are limited

NOTE: This post is offered up by Amy Manning. Amy is a doctoral candidate at UB’s School of Social Work. Amy’s research focus is on prevention, specifically focusing on child and adolescent mental health issues.

The month of February is the National Heart Association Go Red for Women Day. Go Red For Women movement celebrates the energy, passion and power we have as women to band together to wipe out heart disease and stroke.

Being a Native woman, I thought it would be appropriate to spend some time looking at what the research says about cardiovascular health for Native American women. So I spent a little time searching the internet as well as the University Library looking for specific data.  After several searches and many reviews, the reoccurring phrase common in most of these studies as it relates to the Native American population is “data are limited.” Many of the studies published seem to exclude Native Americans from their analysis due to limited numbers of participants.  They were also combined them with other groups, thereby limiting the interpretability of the results.

What was frustrating, as a doctoral student researching health issues and trying to publish manuscripts, was reading through and finding that in most cases, excluding and lumping Native Americans into dissimilar groups was not even mentioned as a limitation of the study. Often times the authors praised themselves for having a heterogeneous sample, when in fact much was missing. I feel that we must do more as researchers and as Native Americans to ensure greater participation in research that could improve the health and welfare of our families and communities.  Imagine if your physician was unaware of the prevalence rates of heart disease among Native Americans because of the current literature? Unfortunately, that isn’t hard to imagine. The movement in healthcare now is to use evidence-based practices. This means medical providers look at the science and evidence of a particular problem and allow that research to guide the best intervention. If medical professionals were to seek the best practices for treating heart disease for Native Americans, they would discover what I just did – Native American’s are excluded or placed into another category resulting in the professional having no evidence to guide practice.
General Heart Data

From the American Heart Association I learned that heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States. Twenty-five percent of all deaths among Native American women are caused by heart disease and stroke. Among all Native Americans, 12% have heart disease, 8% have coronary heart disease, 25% have hypertension, and 5% have had a stroke. The rate of coronary heart disease, and hypertension are elevated when compared to the white population, however, the percent of Native Americans who have had a stroke is more than DOUBLE compared to the white population.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for cardiovascular disease must be monitored and wellness interventions initiated if we are ever going to take control of these silent killers. Almost 50% of Native Americans have 2 or more risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

How could this be possible? The risk factors that are now known to contribute to heart disease include high cholesterol, tobacco use, inactivity, overweight and diabetes. Among the Native American population over 40% use tobacco, including 30% of Native American women.  About 30% of Native Americans have high cholesterol compared to 17% of the general population. Over 50% of Native American adults also report no physical activity, as in zero activity. Currently, only 21% of our young women in grades 9-12 meet basic physical activity guidelines. Physical inactivity is one thing that can lead to an individual being overweight, and as a group Native Americans are the most likely to be overweight out of any group, with 30.4% of adults being overweight. Almost 16% of the Native American population (male and female) have a diagnosed case of Diabetes, compared with 7% of the total general population. The risk for Native Americans developing diabetes is 2.2 times greater than the general population. Check out the rest of the American Heart Association report at here.


Dealing with this problem is easier said than done. It seems families could be the first line of education and agents of change. Communities also should come together and advocate changes. It may even take just one person to stand up and take control of their health to start the process of change. Change is never easy. We women need to be our own best advocates for our communities, families and our own health. All women need to know that if their medical health provider is not listening to their concerns -- they need to find another provider. We also need to stop explaining away symptoms. If something with your health isn’t right -- it isn’t right -- and you need to find out why. Too many times women’s first presentation of heart problems to a medical professional is when she arrives at the ER dead from cardiac arrest.

As a community, we have the highest prevalence rates of so many negative health and wellness issues. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we, as a community, experienced the single most amazing turn-around for our health? I can guarantee you this – if a Native American women’s movement was able to turn this around – data would not be limited on us anymore.

So, what changes can you see happening? How do we start?

Thank you, Amy

Friday, February 4, 2011

Christopher Columbus Fellowships to study Homeland Security

I was preparing a much different post than this one. I thought my last few posts were not focused on health and wellness issues, as I prefer, and that a more meaningful one was in order. Unfortunately, my plans were altered. Have you ever heard of the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation? No!? I didn’t either until I received an email this morning encouraging me to apply for one of the fellowships. Now…stay with me here – one of the fellowships focuses on – get this – Homeland Security! I kid you Not! You can win a $25,000 Christopher Columbus award to study Homeland Security issues. Don’t believe it, click right here.


The foundation’s purpose:

The Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation is an independent Federal government agency established to "encourage and support research, study and labor designed to produce new discoveries in all fields of endeavor for the benefit of mankind." Governed by a Presidential appointed Board of Trustees, the Foundation seeks to nurture and recognize pioneering individuals and programs which reflect the visionary spirit and pioneering heritage of Christopher Columbus.  

And the history of the foundation is:

In 1992 Americans celebrated the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the Americas, and the United States Congress joined in the commemoration by passing Public Law 102-281, the Christopher Columbus Quincentenary Coins and Fellowship Foundation. The initial funding for the Christopher Columbus Foundation was derived from the sale of three denominations of specially minted coins sold by the United States Mint from August 1992-June 1993. The coin sales surcharges constituted the Foundation's endowment thus establishing a living legacy of explorer Christopher Columbus.

So, I’ll reframe from ranting on about all the issues related to a foundation such as this. However, I do have a couple recommendations I would like to offer up. Why stop at celebrating ole Chris. I have three new foundations I would like to propose:

Adolf Hitler Waste Management Fellowship Foundation. The purpose of this fellowship is to study the best strategies for disposing of unwanted waste materials.

Joseph Stalin Ukraine Food Destruction Fellowship.  The purpose of this fellowship is to study why food was over-produced in Europe.

The Klu Klux Klan Botanical & Hemp Fellowship. The purpose of this fellowship is to study trees with strong branches and the uses for hemp ropes.

All we need are some coins, a presidential appointed Board of Trustees, and an Executive Director to oversee these foundations and we could be all set. Would anyone who has studied world history and in their right mind, support any of my three foundations? I would hope not. The people connected with the Christopher Columbus Foundation must not have studied world history, be in their right minds, or both. 

The Executive Director of the Christopher Columbus’s foundation is Judith Shellenberger. If you have any questions or concerns she can be reached at or call (315) 258-0090.