Indian Casinos: Please Play and Please Lose

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I want to talk about Indian Casinos, but let me work my way up to it.  There’s a lot of backstory here.

There are many wonderful things to be said about America.  We’re not a perfect country, but we try to be and I think we’re doing better all the time.   Our history is full of great examples of heroism, selflessness, and sacrifice.  We have outstanding ideals, but there are times we’ve fallen short of them.  There are things in our history that should embarrass us, and how we treated Native Americans is one of them.

Christopher Columbus

This isn’t India? Oh, my bad.

I’ll say Native Americans instead of Indians because it is more accurate, not because it is politically correct- though it is that too.  When we say Indians we’re participating in a 500 year old joke.  The (allegedly) great Christopher Columbus was in all actuality, totally, completely, and profoundly lost.  He was aiming for India, of course, but was short by something like nine thousand miles!  It was his own ignorance and wishful thinking that led to him calling the people he met in the New World Indians.  Whenever we repeat the word we are echoing Columbus’ stupidity.

Listening to the old history lessons in school you’d get the impression that when the Pilgrims landed there were just a few Native Americans camping in the woods.  In reality there were up to 18 million in what is now the U.S.  There were at least 600 distinct tribes from coast to coast, many of those with several subsets.  These tribes spoke more than 250 languages, many now extinct, and represented a host of rich, beautiful, and varied cultures.

These groups had been living successfully in the “New World” for around 11,000 years!  Yet when the first sails of European ships were sighted, they were all but doomed.  By 1890, their collective population  was reduced to a quarter of a million.

White Europeans clearly invaded someone’s home and took it from them.

There is no other way to see it.

Broken treaties happened.

Forced death marches happened.

The hunting down of human beings by the U.S. Army happened.

Bounties paid for every Indian killed happened too.

If I may digress a moment, the term redskin, which gets a lot of people riled up, actually comes from the system of Indian bounties.  When people killed Native Americans for money they carved out a chunk of skin as proof of their kill.  These chunks of skin were known as redskins.  Is that really a good name for a football team?

Anyhow, I said I was going to talk about Indian casinos.

Indian CasinosGambling, or gaming as the casinos like to call it, is big business.  Casinos in the U.S. take in 71 BILLION dollars a year.  Of that 71 billion, 30 billion is taken by “Indian Casinos.”  This revenue is passed on to the tribes to better the lives of tribal members and for efforts to study and preserve their culture and history.

I think that’s wonderful.

All the horror, dishonor, and disrespect Native Americans have suffered can never be assuaged with cash. Casinos are a feeble way of making up for this injustice. It’s not nearly enough, but at least it’s something.

So, I encourage you to visit your local Indian casinos.  Put down as much of your hard earned cash as you can.  And if you can help it, please lose.

It’s only fair.


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