"The Political Economy of Indian Gaming:  Why Are So Many

                                                                                 'Gambling on Gambling'?"

                                                                       by Sandra Faiman-Silva, Ph.D.c2000*

                                                                 Please do not reproduce without permission


                The "frontier" has been a perennial metaphor in United States discourse, popularized by historians such as Frederick Jackson Turner (1962 [1920]) and Charles Beard (see Noble 1965).   The "frontier" metaphor was a driving force in westward migration, adaptable to a range of uniquely American encounters and quests.  It linked ideas of economic opportunity, personal self-sufficiency and individual self-determination within a ruggedly expansive notion of progress: upward and out of prior states of poverty and disadvantage, toward new opportunities, uncharted territories, and expansive spaces.  Initially a geographic construct, the "frontier" has since captured the imaginary as an industrial, post-industrial, and now cybernetic boundary-expanding concept. 

                Political-economist Wilma Dunaway (1996) also used the "frontier" notion to represent a particular kind of contact when framed within political economic discourse.  In the "frontier" metropolitan centers and peripheral hinterlands come together in dialectical and complex encounters, battling over resources, opportunities, and advantages in the competitive marketplace of first, mercantilist, and later industrial and post-industrial capitalism.  In the political economic arena, foreign and domestic markets also constitute "new frontiers" of opportunity for United States capitalist entrepreneurs, who invent new consumer markets by stimulating individual and collective "needs" and "wants." 

                The "frontier" is a region of extremes: of poverty and wealth, success and failure, opportunity and cost.  So-called "boom towns" are by-products of frontier encounters, where rapid economic growth occurs through the infusion of cash into formerly impoverished rural communities (See Little 1978).  Communities are invigorated as a result of innovative development, such as newly-discovered wealth in coal or natural gas or in a profitable emerging industry like gaming.  Boom cycles, however, are ever-vulnerable to wider political economic forces, and the frontier communities created may soon decline under new economic, political, or social conditions. 

                Gaming--tribes' so-called "new buffalo" and states' "golden goose"--is just such a "new frontier" for states, tribes, and private sector entrepreneurs, a bonanza of potential monetary wealth.  The gaming industry has grown phenomenally since 1970, both as an increasingly popular leisure-time activity and as a highly successful revenue-producing strategy for states and tribes.  Gaming is encoded as a legitimate entrepreneurial strategy through two related processes:  1) the resurrection of "frontier" language and rhetoric around familiar symbol-laden metaphors of individual opportunity, self-determination, and "progress;"  and,  2) a process of cultural mystification and subversion, whereby gaming's monetary enticements submerge its actual cultural, individual, and social costs as an economic endeavor which exploits vulnerable populations and regressively expropriates family and community resources.  Individuals, and their institutional representatives at tribal and state levels, tout gaming as an innocent solution to economic woes within a redefined frontier ideology of self-determined wealth-seeking; where communities--both states and tribes--are enticed by its substantial revenue-producing potential.  Gaming is also seen by some Native Americans as a form of pay-back.  Gaming, said Oklahoma Choctaw economic development specialist, Wilma Robinson, "...is the tribe's best revenge" on the wider community: "We are beating them at their own game...economic success!" she declared (author's interview, 6/7/93, Durant, OK).  Gaming, is a new frontier of chance-taking, a palatable--and fun!--entrepreneurial venture.

                                                                                           Indian Gaming

                Large-scale tribally-sponsored gaming commenced in the late 1970s, as cash-and resource-poor tribes in Florida and California, following the lead of successes in state-sponsored lotteries, introduced high-stakes bingo games on tribal land (See Sockbeson 1987:4; Folwell 1988:69; Cordeiro 1992; Cozzetto 1995; Worthen and Farnsworth 1996).  Tribal economic initiatives were in part fueled by passage of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 (PL 93-638), under which tribes were encouraged to reduce federal dependence through self-determined tribal economic initiatives.  One of the first tribes to institute gaming was the Florida Seminoles, who, in response to state opposition to their gaming initiative, sued in federal court in 1979 (Seminole Tribe vs. Butterworth, [658 F.2d 310{5th Cir. 1981}]).  The tribe won the right to conduct gaming operations on tribal land so long as the  state permitted similar operations, a ruling affirmed in another 1987 federal court decision pitting the State of California against the Cabazon Band (480 U.S. 202 [1987]). 

                In 1988 the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA [25 USC 2701 et.seq.]), which recognized tribal jurisdiction over Indian gaming operations, although the IGRA stipulated that tribes must negotiate with states over the types of games permitted and their regulation.  IGRA further stipulated that Indian gaming revenues be used solely for tribal governmental operations and charitable purposes.  A National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) was formed in 1993 under IGRA, which regulates Indian gaming operations nation-wide.  IGRA created three classes of gaming: Class I gaming included traditional tribal and ceremonial gaming and would be regulated solely by tribes; Class II gaming--bingo, pull tabs, lotto and some card games--was also regulated by tribes under IGRA regulations; and Class III gaming, including blackjack and slot machines, would be regulated by state-tribal compacts.  Some states, such as Mississippi, Arizona, Alabama and Florida, resisted negotiating gaming compacts with tribes, even though non-Indian gaming operations were legal in their states (Los Angeles Times 2/26/87, 1(3); New York Times 7/23/90, A(10); Cordeiro 1992:214-216; Vizenor 1990:22-24; Begay and Leung 1994; Cozetto 1995; see also NIGA website:www.dgsys.com/^niga:2/16/97). 

                The Indian Gaming Act's history recounts a familiar pattern of uneasy tension among tribes, states and federal government authorities over still ambiguously defined issues of tribal sovereignty and self-determination.  Like historic battles over tribal land, natural resources, taxation rights, and Native American governing authority, Indian gaming has become another political and economic battlefield among states, tribes, and private entrepreneurs vying for pieces of a multi-billion dollar industry (See Green 1996).  As Worthen and Farnsworth (1996:407) forcefully argue, "...the current controversy concerning reservation gaming...[is] the latest round in a much longer and larger struggle among the federal, state and tribal governments over the States' role in governing Native American groups within state borders."  Indian gaming is particularly problematic in this historic battle, because it offers highly sought after economic opportunities for both states and tribes.  Gaming, however, poses serious contradictions and dilemmas: political, economic, social and moral.  Gaming allows tribes to overcome persistent poverty and unemployment, but is not without social and economic costs, such as addiction, organized crime, and economic exploitation.

                                                                Gaming: "Big Business" for Tribes and States

                The United States gaming industry today--tribal, state, and corporate--is truly "big business."   Ninety-two million American households visited casinos in 1992, and, "by 1993 Americans spent nearly $400 billion a year on all forms of legalized casino gambling, a figure which has grown at an average annual rate of almost 15 percent a year between 1992 and 1994," according to Worthen and Farnsworth (1996:f.n 2).  Indian gaming represents only about seven percent of legal gaming income nationally; producing for tribes about $7 billion in gross revenues and between $750 and $1 billion net income annually.  State-sponsored operations in thirty-seven states bring in about ten times that amount, an estimated $10 billion dollars annually (Worthen and Farnsworth 1996:407; f.n 2). 

                Fewer than one third of the nation's 557 federally recognized tribes, approximately 140 tribes, sponsor gaming operations, ranging from high-stakes bingo to casino gambling; and Indian gaming operations nationally employ over 120,000 people directly and produce an estimated 160,000 indirect jobs (NIGA website: www.dgsys.com/~niga/2/16/97).   Gaming as a tribal entrepreneurial strategy is particularly attractive for resource-poor tribes, since it entails few capital costs, is more labor-intensive than some other industries, and is highly lucrative.   As a result, gaming has become the economic centerpiece of economic development and sovereignty-focussed self-determination movements on reservations and in Native American communities from Maine to California.  With American enthusiasm for gaming seemingly insatiable and unabated, Native Americans have entered an economic niche that could enrich them for decades to come.  Like energy extraction industry-created border boom-towns in the Navajo and Hopi Nations, gaming has energized many Native American economies. 

                Many Native Americans are winning in truly grand style in their gaming initiatives, both in the political-economic arena of tribal politics and in the global marketplace of capitalist entrepreneurship.  Gaming has brought phenomenal financial success to Connecticut's Mashentucket-Pequots, whose two hundred adult tribal members are paid $200,000 each annually from the tribe's Foxwoods casino profits.  Foxwoods, the world's largest casino, opened in 1992, and currently employs approximately 11,000 with an annual payroll of over $300 million (Boston Globe, 2/16/97;  Anders and Thompson 1996:13; See also Cooper 1996; Worthen and Farnsworth 1996:407; f.n.7).  Other tribes have also profited substantially from  gaming, nearly a dozen in New Mexico alone, including Acoma, Santa Ana, Isleta and San Juan Pueblos.  According to the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA), an industry lobbying group, Wisconsin's fifteen Class III tribal gaming operations employ more than 4,500 with an annual payroll of over $68 million.  Washington's Tulalips have reduced tribal unemployment from 65 percent to less than ten percent since it opened its gaming operation in 1991.  Minnesota's 17 Class III gaming operations are the seventh largest employer in the state, and have created 10,000 new jobs for Indians and non-Indians (NIGA website:www.dgsys.com/^niga/ 2/16/97).  Many successful gaming tribes such as New Mexico's Isletas and Acomas, and Minnesota's White Earth Chippewas, and Mdewakanton Dakota (Sioux) of Prior Lake,  tout similar successes.  Tribes use gaming revenues to construct and renovate tribal schools, health clinics, senior and youth centers; build tribal businesses including smoke shops, golf courses, and buffalo herds; promote environmental cleanup; and fund higher education scholarships and anti-drug programs.  Said one New Mexico Indian gaming spokesperson, 

                Our gaming operations are providing the resources to fund programs for our elders, and programs for our children. Our gaming operations are providing the capital for economic diversification projects on our land. Our gaming operations are providing the funds to fix the problems we have never been able to deal with financially. Our gaming operations are providing the resources for a renewed respect for our culture and our people (New Mexico Indian Gaming                website:http://www.atiin.com/nmiga/).

                                                                                   Choctaw Nation Gaming

                The Oklahoma Choctaws, who opened the Choctaw Nation Bingo Palace in 1987 in response to Reagan-era "new Federalism" initiatives encouraging tribes to take over formerly BIA-run services and develop tribal economic enterprises, have also accomplished impressive economic growth as a result of gaming profits.  With many of his people languishing in poverty in the late 1970s, Choctaw Chief, Hollis Roberts, sought to turn around the tribe's persistent unemployment and poverty problems in a region dominated by private non-Indian extractive and food-processing giants, Weyerhaeuser Timber Company and Tyson Foods, Inc.  Roberts faced a fundamental challenge of providing his members with a sustainable economy while working to achieve three crucial cultural goals:  1) accommodate to a decentralized, non‑reservation Choctaw community lifestyle;  2) preserve some viable forms of Choctaw self‑identity; and  3) promote national self‑sufficiency and sovereignty.  Choctaw leaders worked to promote two major economic objectives: 1) creating jobs in Choctaw‑owned and run enterprises, and 2) take‑over of BIA contracted programs and services under the Indian Self‑Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 (PL93‑638).  To accomplish these ends, the tribe developed an elaborate corporate structure which manages tribal assets and serves as intermediary between the Choctaw people and various opportunities available to them through federal government programs, the BIA, the private corporate sector, and local communities. 

                Beginning in 1985 the Choctaws implemented Reagan-era "new Federalism" policies in earnest, which aimed to promote tribal self-determined economic development initiatives through block grants and private sector development partnerships.  The tribe took over the 52‑bed Talihina Indian Hospital, renamed the Choctaw Nation Indian Hospital, and three outlying health clinics, which together employed over two hundred people.  A second tribal initiative was the 1986 acquisition of the 256‑acre Arrowhead Lodge, located in the northern Choctaw Nation, which was renovated to provide beach accommodations and an amphitheater, again with the goal of providing additional jobs for Choctaws.  The lodge complex employed over 140 people in 1987, three‑quarters of whom were Choctaws.  A capstone to the Lodge is a recently-completed 12,000 square foot convention center which accommodates eight hundred people (Bishinik [Durant, OK], 5/87, p. 2; 2/92, P. 1).

                The boldest and potentially most controversial Choctaw undertaking was in 1987, when the Choctaw Indian Bingo Palace opened at Durant, creating about 140 additional jobs and promising to be a significant revenue‑producer.  The bingo concession attracts approximately 160,000 people per year, eighty percent from Texas.  In its second year of operations bingo netted more than one million dollars in profits and the Choctaws expected to earn $12 million annually when it took over full ownership after seven years.  The complex has been expanded to include a full‑service Travel Center, the Choctaw Nation Travel Plaza, which in 1992 grossed over $1.4 billion per month (Bishinik  2/92, p. 3).  The Choctaws just opened a second travel plaza in Durant (Bishinik 10/96, p. 1), with $1 million in tribal funds and a 1/2 million dollar U.S. HUD block grant.                

                Bingo and other tribal profits finance supplemental health‑related services not funded by Indian Health Service appropriations, including specialized medications for diabetes and arthritis (Talihina [Oklahoma] American 12/21/89, p. 1; Bishinik, 10/96, p. 5), funds drastically curtailed during and since the 1980s Reagan era.  Tribal General Fund revenues along with federal entitlement monies provide supplementary medical, dental and optical services; home maintenance and upkeep programs; head start, Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and Food Distribution programs; energy assistance, nutrition and support for the elderly; and low interest business and personal loan programs.  Revenues have also been used to construct twelve Community Centers throughout the Choctaw Nation and fund higher education scholarship programs (Tribal news release, Durant, Ok., June, 1991; Bishinik 1987-1996).   The Choctaws also own a six-passenger tribal airplane and even introduced their own "Choctaw Visa" credit card (Bishinik, 8/91, p. 1; 1987-1997).

                Not only is the tribe subsidizing federal entitlement programs, but it recently agreed to contribute $1 million through its Tribal Improvement Program to pave and modernize State Highway 144, which the State of Oklahoma threatened to abandon and the County refused to accept in its unpaved condition (Bishinik, 2/95, P. 1).  The tribe has also contributed to the local economy by earmarking one percent of bingo profits for the City of Durant, where the bingo palace and travel plazas are located, and 1/3 of one percent to the local Chamber of Commerce.  "They love it!" Wilma Robinson, the tribe's Economic Development specialist stated (author's interview, 6/6/94, Durant, OK).

                Choctaw Nation economic development has been stunningly successful under Chief Roberts' leadership--a staunch political conservative--during the federal downsizing eras of "new Federalism," Bush, and now Clinton, transforming the tribe into a highly efficient quasi-corporation with a portfolio worth more than one-third billion dollars.  His "bootstrap" entrepreneurial approach has brought Roberts praise from constituents, who overwhelmingly reelected him in 1995 with an 80 percent margin of victory.  Under Roberts' tenure, the tribe itself has also grown substantially, since blood quantum membership requirements were eliminated.  What formerly was a tribe of approximately 20,000 has grown to over 98,000, with many members living outside the Choctaw Nation. 

                Tribal economic growth, build largely upon highly successful bingo and travel plaza enterprises, has provided an economic cushion to Choctaws during the 1980s and 1990s when federal entitlement programs were slashed, allowing the tribe to pick up the slack where federal and state monies were unavailable.  The Choctaw Nation has become in effect a branch of the United States welfare state bureaucracy, channeling tribal profits into what were previously federal and state-mandated programs.  Indeed, the tribe's entrepreneurial initiatives have brought significant improvements to the lives of local Choctaws, through a myriad of tribally-sponsored subsidy programs, jobs, housing and health care. 

                                                                                     Gaming's Darker Side

                High stakes gaming has a darker side, however, revealed in both state and tribal gaming venues.  Throughout the nation, states have turned to what has become "America's...No. 1 growth industry," to recoup revenues lost in the 1980s' and 1990s' federal and state budget-cutting frenzy.   While states and tribes profit from gambling, poor citizens fall prey to gambling enticements as a quick fix to unemployment and poverty.  Corporate giants such as Ramada, MGM, and Hilton, also are cashing in substantially, making $1.2 billion in profits in 1992 alone.  Jobs created in the gaming industry, however, are typical of the secondary service sector: low paid and unskilled (Boston Globe 9/26/93:1, 18-19; 9/27/93:1, 8-9; 9/28/93:1, 16-17; 9/29/93:1, 24-25; 9/30/93:1, 18; Vizenor 1990:18-24; 1992; Cozzetto 1995:126-128). 

                Gaming is a highly regressive revenue-producing strategy which preys on poor consumers easily co-opted by gambling enticements and not infrequently trapped into addiction.  Gaming "plays like Robin Hood in reverse, taking from poor communities and giving to rich," said Mitchell Zuckoff and Doug Bailey (Boston Globe 9/27/93:1).   States' push for gaming revenues on close analysis has been found to have increased in direct proportion to federal spending cuts during the 1980s and 1990s: a source of scarce resources to subsidize cash-strapped local coffers.  Federal and state policy-makers are not unaware of this new source of potential revenues; and current federal budget proposals have suggested imposing a federal tax on Indian gaming profits, as a new source of revenues to reduce the federal budget deficit (H.R. 325, "Indian Gaming Tax Reform Act" [1/7/97]; H.R. 2517 and H.R. 2491, 104th Cong., 1st Sess, S 13631 [1995]; see also Worthen and Farnsworth 1996:426, f.n. 181).  Not only would such legislation erode tribal gaming profits but it would also set dangerous precedents in giving states and the federal government new authority to tax tribal enterprises.   

                Massachusetts illustrates states' interests in gaming as a revenue-producing alternative to raising taxes.  Touted by anti-tax Republican Governor, William Weld, the Massachusetts lottery begun in 1972 is the largest state-run gaming operation nation-wide.  Through extensive advertising, large pay-offs, and a wide array of games, the State added more than $3.4 billion to its coffers in 1996 alone by enticing its citizen to spend on average $505 annually on the State lottery.  Social class disparities in lottery spending are stark in Massachusetts:  while suburban residents spend only a few dollars annually on lottery tickets, residents of impoverished communities like Lowell and Chelsea invest $1,000 or more each year for the chance to cash in on million dollar winnings.  Lottery revenues differentially benefit affluent suburbs: high-betting cities don't get their fair share of lottery revenues, since lottery revenues are allocated based on property assessments  (Boston Globe, 2/10, 2/11, 2/12/1997; 9/27/1993: 1, 8-9).  Massachusetts is not the only state being consumed by gambling debts.  Nation-wide, in the decade between 1982 and 1992 gambling revenues tripled nationally, and Americans lost $30 billion in gambling in 1992 alone (Boston Globe 9/26/93:1, 18).

                Similar problems have also surfaced in Indian gaming contexts as well (see Pasquaretta 1994; Anders and Thompson 1996).  Tribal debates over high stakes bingo and other gaming operations have pitted factions opposed to gaming against members who favor such enterprises.   Disputes among Canadian and New York State Mohawks in 1989 led to violence that left two dead and brought intervention by the Canadian mounted and local police forces.  According to one Native spokesperson, Mohawk factions for and against organized gambling have been likened to "two irreconcilable visions of the future--one based on greed and profit and the other on collective ownership and the extended family" (Akwesasne Notes Midwinter 1989-90:4; see also Folwell 1988). 

                Not only does gaming precipitate internal factional disputes, but tribes vie among themselves, with private entrepreneurs, and with States for gaming revenues.  In Connecticut opposition to the Mashantucket-Pequot off-reservation casino came from the State's parimutuel gambling industry (New York Times 11/18/95:A1).  Some states, notably California, Nevada, and North Dakota, have mounted substantial opposition to Indian gaming in their states, to protect not only state gaming interests but also those of entrepreneurial gaming.  Said Senator John McCain in Congressional hearings following passage of the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (cited in Worthen and Farnsworth 1996:414), "[I]t [is] clear that the interests of the [S]tates and of the gaming industry extend far beyond their expressed concern about organized crime.  Their true interest was protection of their own games from a new source of economic competition...." Another Senator, John Evans, testified that, "...the strongest opponents of tribal authority over gaming on Indian lands are from States whose liberal gaming policies would allow them to compete on an equal basis with the tribes" (Worthen and Farnsworth 1996:f.n. 143).  

                Tribes face cultural and social dilemmas in a gaming-dependent economy.  As earlier noted, tribal casinos rely on a vulnerable economic base which offers few skilled jobs.  Equally as troubling is that gaming operations have been found to promote gambling addictions and other social costs, attract organized crime, and undermine incentives to work.  The Fort McDowell (Arizona) Yavapais pay each tribal member $40,000 annually from gaming, but Begay and Leung (1994:6-7) note that the tribe now faces the problem of "educat[ing] tribal members in the value of work."   In response to proposals to open gambling casinos in his community, a Mashpee (Massachusetts) Wampanoag spokesperson said, "Do I want my children to grow up to be bingo chip counters?" (Falmouth [MA] Enterprise, 1993).  Some tribes, including the largest tribe in the nation, the Navajos, along with the Hopis and Alabama Coushatta Tribe of Texas, have opted to reject gaming as a revenue-producing strategy, for a variety of reasons, both moral and cultural.  Hopis and Navajos, perceiving organized gambling as inconsistent with cultural values and a threat to traditional culture, have resisted gaming initiatives on their reservations, although the Navajos will vote on the issue again in July (See Worthen and Farnsworth 1996:f.n.200). 

                Tribes frequently compete among themselves for lucrative gaming sites, and many operations, particularly remote rural operations far from urban centers don't bring the profits anticipated.  One tribe, the Hualapai Tribe in northwestern Arizona, closed its casino after eight months for lack of revenues, and northern Maine's Penobscots struggle to attract gambling clientele to their high stakes bingo hall (see Worthen and Farnsworth 1996:f.n.7; Boston Globe 5/13/97, C1, C14).  More than one hundred Native American groups are currently seeking tribal recognition to establish their right to operate Indian gaming casinos, adding to the competitive arena of tribal gaming dollars (Anders and Thompson 1996:16).  

                Tribes, like states, use gaming revenues to support various public sector programs, including health care, education, infrastructure maintenance, and jobs training.  In an era of heated anti-tax rhetoric, state- and tribally-sponsored gaming have become income-generating strategies which by-pass the need for tax increases; and as  Richard G. Hill, National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) chairman, testifying before the US Congress, argued, "Indian gaming actually serves to reduce the Federal deficit" (cited in Worthen and Farnsworth 1996:f.n.198).  In Massachusetts gaming accounts for thirteen percent of state revenues.  Among the Oklahoma Choctaws, as earlier noted, gaming revenues support a range of public welfare and subsidy programs, supplementing inadequate federal entitlements.

                As tribes have taken on more responsibility for financing what were formerly U.S. government-mandated entitlement programs, under the rhetoric of tribal economic self-determination, tribes, too, are shouldering public welfare costs through gaming revenues.  Tribal gaming profits have replaced federal dollars lost during the government downsizing of the 1980s and mid-1990s, a movement re-energized by Newt Gingrich and other Republicans in their "Contract with America."  Gaming profits, as earlier noted, pay for day care and head start programs, home weatherization programs, dental and health care benefits, food commodities, housing subsidies, jobs' training programs, and even road paving projects (See Faiman-Silva 1993, 1997; Cozetto 1995).  Yet, as also argued, one community's gaming revenues are another's betting losses; and like regressive tax systems generally, gambling differentially expolits poorer, less informed, and more vulnerable citizens, easy prey for gambling's enticements.  In fact, Native Americans are also vulnerable to these enticements, and some tribal gaming enterprises now face the problem of increased gambling addiction among their own members (See Anders and Thompson 1996). 


                Perhaps the most formidable challenge to the Oklahoma Choctaws and other tribes heavily invested in gaming is and will be to retain cultural integrity in the face of culture contact, change and redefined ideologies of tribal sovereignty and self-determination in a gaming context.  Native American sovereignty is realized through collective resource control, independent tribal decision-making, and cultural integrity--however that is defined and expressed.  Throughout the post-contact era Native American sovereign rights have weighed in delicate balance with national and global political economic interests.   As Worthen and Farnsworth (1990:f.n.11) note,

                The current conventional view, as bluntly stated by one federal judge, is that 'an Indian tribe is sovereign to the extent that the United States permits it to be sovereign--neither more nor less.' United States v. Blackfeet Tribe, 364    F.Supp.192, 194 (D.Mont.1973)."  Indian gaming has once again brought sovereignty and economic agendas together in many Native American communities, illuminating the perennial tension between Native American self-determination and larger United States government political agendas. Does tribal sovereignty linked to economic self-sufficiency signal eventual cultural annihilation for Native Americans, like the Choctaws?  Smith (1994) and Cornell and Kalt (1990, 1992a, 1992b) maintain that the mix of effective leadership, shrewd business entrepreneurship, and cultural preservation spells the formula for Native American cultural and social persistence.  Smith (1994:177) however noted the inherent tension in the mix when he said,

                Only when the individual tribe both controls its own resources and sustains its    identity as a distinct civilization does economic development make sense; otherwise, the tribe must choose between cultural integrity and economic development.  Today gaming constitutes both an opportunity and a challenge to tribal sovereignty, self-determination, and cultural integrity.  Persistent questions loom:  How long will the boom cycle surrounding the gaming industry persist?  How long will tribes be permitted to pursue entrepreneurial gaming unfettered by powerful state- and private corporate sector lobbying interests?  And how long will gaming continue to attract the substantial audience it currently enjoys, an audience mystified by a "rags to riches" ideology of instant gain? 



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*Professor of Anthropology

  Anthropology Department

  Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, MA 02325

 (508) 531-2369;    email: sfaimansilva@bridgew.edu