In the lead article in your April 22 issue on the Mississippi Band of Choctaws' dealership controversy, I was halted by the quote attributed to Bill Lehman, president of the Mississippi Automobile Dealers Association: "The entire issue is about a level playing field."
I am a 24-year veteran of the automobile industry and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, and that statement struck me as one of the most absurd in the history of Native American rights.
While the Native American Rights Fund is waging critical legal battles for the preservation of tribal existence and the protection of human rights and resources, sovereign tribes across North America have become successful economic entities. The same federally granted privileges that created reservation gambling casinos (patronized by the same people who buy cars) empower them to compete in the battlefield of commerce.
The ugly alternatives can still be observed on reservations in many areas of our country where Native Americans live in Third World conditions, wards of the same government.
A level playing field, Mr. Lehman? In the larger view, I think not. My only hope is that Ford Motor Co. and the Mississippi Motor Vehicle Commission disregard the dealer association's manifest destiny card and approve the point unconditionally.
This is about diversity, opportunity and free enterprise, and it has been a long time coming. From there, those dealers who provide quality service at a fair price will prosper in their respective markets.