restricted access Casinos, Culture, and Cash: How Gambling Has Afffected Minnesota Tribal Nations
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| 85 Casinos, Culture, and Cash How Gambling Has Affected Minnesota Tribal Nations Caroline Laurent S incetheearly1980s,theincomegeneratedbyIndiangamingestablishments has poured a new stream of revenue into reservations.This influx of money became particularly visible after the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988 was enacted and tribes started high-stakes gaming on a larger scale, basedonfederallylegalfoundations.Thisincomehaspermittedtribalgovernments to expand or create new programs and services for tribal members, improve social services, and strengthen educational and traditional programs. It has also allowed tribal governments to address the use of tribal representation by outsiders and to weigh in on the perception non-Natives can have of Native cultures in general. Many people, however, disagree on whether the overall impact of tribal casinos has been benefijicial or disruptive to tribal cultures. Indeed, the efffect of casinos on Indian cultures is double-edged. On one hand, casinos, inherently capitalistic ventures, and the monies they generate can be seen as directly going against tribal traditions—whichforcefullyemphasizethedangersof greed—andasencouraging cultural erosion or cultural dormancy. Conversely, casinos may enable Indigenous Nations to counteract the pervasive efffects of assimilation on their cultures, or at least to reduce nontribal influences, which might lead to a greater emphasis on traditional values. Since the introduction of high stakes casino gaming by tribes, 86 | Caroline Laurent manyIndiantraditionalistshavebeensuspiciousof theculturalimpactthisformof gambling may have on their communities.1 One critic is Jim Northrup, a prominent Minnesota Ojibwe writer and advocate of traditional values. In 1993, he stated that “gambling begets greed. The tiger [gaming] is making us forget who we are as a people. Gambling is teaching us not to share.”2 Certainaspectsof casinogamingcanhavenegativeefffectsonIndiancommunities . Addictions to gambling, alcohol, and cigarettes can be exacerbated by going to casinos—although some of them are “dry” places where no alcohol is served. Some opponentstogamblingeventakethiscriticismastepfurther,statingthataddiction togamblingencouragesdomesticviolenceandabuse.3 Oneof theconcernsof local communities, and of some tribal members themselves, is that casino revenues can indirectly fund drug use and illegal activities. Although these issues are real and highly problematic, another, more satisfying perspective should be underlined when looking at how the money generated by casinos has signifijicantly helped Native Nations revive their cultures. Before analyzing this revival, it is essential to assert a specifijic defijinition of that critical concept—culture. As it is considered here, culture encompasses all aspects of society, including beliefs and values, material goods, and knowledge that is learned and transmitted across generations.4 Education, traditions, and language are the most crucial cultural aspects that will be examined here. In her groundbreaking book about Seminole gaming in Florida, anthropologist Jessica Cattelino explains how the “currency of culture” relates to casinos.5 Indeed, if the impact of Indian gaming is often studied for political and economic purposes, the cultural consequences and changes need to be given more attention in order to understand the profound transformations taking place in Indian Country. This chapter endeavors to demonstrate the tangible consequences of gaming revenue on reservations in terms of preservation of culture and how it has helped Native peoples redefijine their identity according to their own cultural paradigms. The fijirst section focuses on three Ojibwe reservations situated in Minnesota: Mille Lacs,White Earth, and Fond du Lac.6 These reservations all have their own specifijicities —diffferent demographics, variable successes, and a range of initiatives—but all have been working on their education systems, traditions, and language. The second part of this study considers various Indigenous cultural aspects that have been revitalized, or that have morphed, thanks to casino money in the United States—but more specifijically in Minnesota—including the way tribal Nations approach employment laws and their new ability to oppose the appropriation How Gambling Has Affected Tribal Nations | 87 of their names or identifijiable cultural traits without their consent for all types of purposes (businesses, sports, celebrations, or arts). This chapter explores the various creative and unexpected ways in which casinos have helped positively influence the revival of Indian cultures. The fijinal section focuses on the role that casinosplayinthelivesof Indiantribes,towhatextentNativepeoplesidentifywith tribally owned casinos, and what these places represent for them. The following pages, therefore, provide some examples of casino revenues supporting tribal effforts to preserve and revitalize values and traditions, and strengthening control of their representations, cultural practices, and identities, at times even enabling the reversal of nontribal influences. The Cultural Impact of Casinos on Three Minnesota Reservations The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Located in east-central Minnesota, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is a...


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