In 1987, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians upholding the legal right of American Indian tribes to offer gaming on reservation lands. In the years since, tribal gaming has done what no other anti-poverty programme has been able to do in reversing the cycle of displacement and impoverishment of American Indians. In 2002, the 321 tribal casinos owned and operated by 201 Indian tribes generated over $10.6 billion dollars in net revenues. Among its proponents, tribal gaming has been hailed as the "new buffalo" for American Indians and credited with transforming once destitute Indian reservations from the grips of poverty, unemployment, and welfare dependency. Given the choices at hand, it is not surprising that many have seized upon gambling as a bonanza and much needed, though controversial, form of development. Yet this reversal of fortune after generations of impoverishment has exacted a displacement toll few proponents have been willing to acknowledge: social conflict, tribal factionalism, and cultural antagonism. In this essay I consider some of these displacement effects, their historical antecedents, and the ramifications for Indian and non-Indian communities.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences(all)