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Essay on Big Money for a Little Culture

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The constant whirring of electric slot machines, the clatter of drink glasses on a bar, the plethora of bright, flashing lights – these are typical in an average Native American casino. However, beyond the trivial entertainment these establishments provide, a much greater purpose is served. Native American communities are rampant with jobless members and poor fiscal conditions. A shabbily maintained economy could eventually lead to a loss of traditional lifestyles. Gambling establishments, especially those who donate a portion of their income to their respective reservations, assist in keeping economic and cultural order amongst tribes and contribute to decreasing unemployment. Findings show that “gaming revenues generated $25.7 billion in 2006, creating 670,000 jobs for Indians and non-Indians” (Gibson, 2007). These studies undoubtedly lead to the conclusion that casinos are bringing positivity and funding to American Indian reservations across the nation. While some argue that casinos produce nothing but bad habits, ignoring the benefits of their revenue is nearly impossible. Although the effects of alcohol and gambling addictions are disastrous, the benefits casinos generate for a reservation’s people are innumerable. Therefore, casinos are a vital part of Native American life and reservations should continue to run and maintain them.
American Indian communities are among the poorest in the United States. One study states that “Employment rates on most reservations are below 75 percent with per capita income estimated at around $3,000 to $4,000 leaving around 50 percent of American Indians living below the poverty level” (Nalls). The lack of flourishing market and tourism industries on reservations has led to little growth i...


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...led and revitalized American Indian life while at the same time has preserved cultures and traditions. When such a booming market presents itself to a group in dire economic straits, the obvious course of action is for them to reach out and grab it.



Works Cited

Gibson, D. (2007, July/August). Indian gaming: A rising tide lifts all boats. Native Peoples, 20(4), 48-51.

“Indian gaming.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 13 Oct. 2010 http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1459644/Indian-gaming.

Nalls, A. Mercedes, Ronald L. Mullis, and Ann K. Mullis. “American Indian youths’ perceptions of their environment and their reports of depressive symptoms and alcohol/marijuana use.” Adolescence 44.176 (2009): 964+. General OneFile. Web. 13 Oct. 2010

United States. What We Do., Web. 13 Oct 2010. http://www.bia.gov/WhatWeDo/index.htm.


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