CATOOSA — Seeking work that pays at least $2.45 above the federal minimum wage? One of the Cherokee Nation’s expanding casinos may hold just the job for you. Just one thing: Whites, blacks, Asians and most other races need not apply. Not yet, anyway. The tribe’s business arm is hosting a job fair next month for American Indians only, hoping to fill 1,000 casino jobs. Leftover jobs will be opened to non-Indian applicants. Normally, a race-specific job fair would violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, tribes are exempt from that landmark law’s hiring provisions, said Dianna Johnston, an attorney for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. No other race has such an exception.Comments
Citizenship preferredMike Miller, spokesman for the Cherokee Nation, said the tribe isn’t offering preference based on race but on tribal citizenship. "There are some jobs that you just want citizens of your own country doing,” Miller said. He said non-Indians hold many of the tribe’s 7,000 total jobs. However, Miller said, "If we have a qualified Cherokee applicant, we want to give that person an opportunity. "We don’t care what an applicant looks like. We care that they’re a citizen of a (tribal) nation. That’s a huge difference. People need to get past some old ideas about what an Indian tribe is. An Indian tribe is a government made up of citizens. ... just as the United States is.”
Why they’re exemptJohnston said there are two reasons Congress exempted tribal employers from the Civil Rights Act’s prohibition on preferential treatment: →Sovereignty: Tribes are considered sovereign governments. →Unemployment: American Indians traditionally have a high unemployment rate. Tribes’ exemption from the Civil Rights Act refers to jobs on reservations. However, unlike other states with large Indian populations, Oklahoma no longer has reservations. Johnson said the EEOC has interpreted the exemption to be extended to any land in Oklahoma that has been placed in federal trust for a tribe’s benefit.
Job fair→When: Nov. 7-8 →Where: Cherokee Casino Resort, Interstate 44 and S 193 Ave. in Catoosa →What to bring: Two forms of identification plus a tribal enrollment card or certified degree of Indian blood card
UnemploymentAccording to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, 31 percent of American Indians in Oklahoma were unemployed in 2005.
WagesCherokee Nation’s minimum wage is $9 per hour. The federal minimum wage is $6.55.