The Sault Ste. Marie Chippewas, a Michigan tribe rich from casino revenues, know something about spreading their bets around the table. After G.O.P. Governor John Engler trumped their plans to build a casino in downtown Detroit, they gave $100,000 to the national Democratic Party in early '96. That helped win the attention of then deputy White House chief of staff Harold Ickes, whom they pressed to get the Interior Department to back their casino proposal. Actually, the tribe gave the President's party almost four times that much. But to avoid further angering Engler, who was already furious about their support for...

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