Native Casino Gambling - 'Then and Now'
Things have changed in gaming circles, but this is the way it was some eight years ago with Native casino gambling and even further back in the 1980s when it all began, at least here in Yuma, with a bingo parlor on the “rez” managed by three Jewish guys from L.A.
Here goes: Gaming is being touted in some quarters as “the new buffalo” for Native Americans, a source of economic renewal and independence. However, a conflict between noble purpose and pragmatic reality poses a built-in dilemma for many casino cultures.
Indian-owned casinos are established for betterment of tribal members and helping making them self-sufficient. Yet running the casinos requires expertise and manpower Indians can’t muster. It requires outside help. In Indian casinos, most (or in some cases all) of the management and employee base is non-Indian. Therein lies the dilemma.
Policy mandates handed down from tribal councils that govern gaming operations favor Native American interests. This is after all, why casinos are built. By contractual terms, non-tribal casino management in many instances must groom its own Native American replacement. Indians, typically, get preference in hiring, promotions, and perks such as shift preference.
Non-Indian employees often view this as legalized discrimination. Legal it may be, but the bias violates a basic truth of human nature. Though preferential treatment of favored employees is nothing new to gaming it is always a divisive force in casino cultures. However, the line of division between the “ins” and “outs” is seldom as clearly defined as in Native American casinos.
Casino management and the tribal councils often overlook one simple fact: Indians and non-Indians don’t understand one another according to Kathryn Gabriel, author of Gambler Way: Indian Gaming in Mythology, History and Archeology in North America”. Gabriel underscores the cultural differences as illustrated in myths.
“There are no good guys and bad guys in Native myths. The social function of traditional tribal myth is to distribute value evenly among all the elements providing a model or pattern for egalitarian structuring of society.
“Stories work dynamically among clusters of loose interconnected circles shifting the focus from one character to the next until all of the pertinent elements in the ritual conversation have their say. This way, there are no heroes, no villains, no chorus, no minor characters.” Everyone is equal!
Keep in mind the sovereignty of Indian nations. So, when a chairman of a tribal council explains he is just a figurehead empowered to act and sign documents only with the consent of the tribal council, this procedure is not easily understood by white Americans. It does a number on the Western image of ambition: Getting ahead in the world and living the American Dream.
Here are five strategic principles offered by the writers of the article that Indian gaming operations can apply for the best interests of the tribe and the motivational needs of non-Indian employees:
1. Explain to all employees the casino’s reason for being is to uplift the tribe and if it weren’t for this ideal, there would not be a casino for them to work in the first place.
2. Install processes that ensure uniform and consistent application of stated policies.
3. Build a strong casino culture that welds employees together in a common bond.
4. Educate tribal members to understand the Western mentality.
5. Research the attitudes and perceptions of employees to measure understanding and acceptance of tribal mandates. Let the employees know you‘re listening and you hear them.
If tribal gaming is the “new buffalo” of economic survival for Indians, the tribes need help until they can go it alone. Tribal leaders must find some common ground of cooperation with non-Indian managers and employees needed to make the casinos produce the desired benefit for the tribe.
Remember, this was written eight years ago and things have dramatically changed for many tribes. But, there is nothing wrong with reminding them how far they have come from the old days.
Not One Damn Dime Day - Part 2
Because the people in Washington continue to mortgage America’s future with tax cuts and deficit spending, because corporate America and the corporate press continue to hide their heads in the sand about it, Tax Day, April 15th is Not One Dime Tax Day across America.
Tell them you are mad as hell about their fiscal insanity. Tell them to do right by the American people, and the issues we care about like education and health. Tell them more spending on an unnecessary war in Iraq is throwing good money after bad and threatens our national security.
Pay your taxes but on April 15th tell you Senator and Representative you don’t want them to borrow one damn dime more; tell them they have no right to put your children and grandchildren’s name on their IOU lists.
NATIVE UNITY - A place for Native American Peoples to solidify their tribes to make a positiveon the cultural, social, economic and political fabric of American society and a place for non-Natives to better understand the ways of the American Indian.
For news and information on Native American and First Nations actors, go to Annie's site at www.NativeCelebs.com and follow the threads.