Aaron Peardon

Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in History



First Committee Member

Maria Raquel Casas, Chair

Second Committee Member

David Tanenhaus

Third Committee Member

William Bauer

Graduate Faculty Representative

John Tuman

Number of Pages



Indian Gaming has transformed the economic, political, and sociological landscape of California. The growth of Indian casinos has had a profound impact on both Indian and non-Indian communities alike. California tribes took the lead in legalizing Indian Gaming throughout the nation. The efforts of California tribes in the legislative and political process have enabled many tribal groups to rise out of poverty and to gain prosperity that would otherwise be impossible to achieve. They have also brought increased revenue to local communities and have provided thousands of jobs to all Californians.

This thesis discusses the historical relationships between Native American groups and the various government entities with which they have interacted. Starting with a general overview of the legal history of major legislative and judicial decisions affecting all aspects of tribal-government relations, the topics narrow to a discussion of the direct impact of court decisions both major and minor on Indian Gaming throughout the United States. These decisions led to congressional action including the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act which provided the foundation for legalized Indian Gaming.

California Tribes were at the forefront of these decisions, and as the legal playing field continued to change, native groups adapted by taking their cause to the citizens of their state. The thesis provides a detailed explanation of the compacting process, a discussion of tribal struggles through the use of the direct initiative, and an illustration of how this battle led to unforeseen benefits for tribal enterprises. The thesis concludes in the year 2009 with a discussion of the current status of Indian Gaming in California and future concerns that face native governments in their ongoing effort towards greater tribal sovereignty.


California; Casinos; Gambling; Gambling on Indian reservations; Gaming; Indian Gaming Regulatory Act; Indians of North America; Law


American Studies | Cultural History | Gaming and Casino Operations Management | Indigenous, Indian, and Aboriginal Law | Indigenous Studies | Sociology | United States History

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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