California Indian tribes are funneling some of the millions of dollars from their casinos to various universities for the study of Native American issues.
Tribal representatives say their donations total an estimated $70 million annually. The tribes have been one of the largest political contributors over the past five years, spending more than $120 million on local and statewide campaigns.
Some critics believe academic integrity is at risk when special interests influence higher education. But some experts say the tribes are following the example set by other companies that have funded school projects.
Tribal representatives say university programs addressing the Native American culture have long gone underfunded and now money is available to make them stronger.