I’ve been getting a decent amount of Google traffic on the Cherokee Freedmen posts, but there’s a bit of a lull in Freedmen news lately. And I don’t want to make it sound like there’s only bad news out of Native America — a couple recent articles in Indian Country Today paint a rosier picture.
No. 1: “Seminoles announce plans to expand Hard Rock brand globally.” The internationally known Hard Rock Cafe chain was bought by the Seminole Tribe of Florida in March, and the tribe plans to double the number of restaurants “to about 250 and have about 90 hotels.”
No. 2: A report from Connecticut finds that the state’s “two Indian casinos together contribute more than $422 million annually to the state coffers – a bigger share of state revenue than corporate income tax.”
That’s not to say prosperity isn’t without cost, or that it will proceed without conflict. Again from ICT:
Elders of the Quechan tribe in southwestern Arizona and California sang songs and prayed to the Creator to forgive the tribe for trying to build a casino on land they believe is sacred.
While leadership within the tribe supports the casino and said the endeavor will boost the economy, some members of the tribe strongly oppose the idea. Five such members were arrested in June after they protested the casino by setting up a ceremonial sweat lodge.
Money threatens traditional traditional ways of life wherever it goes. Competition over wealth leads to new conflicts. It is certainly is an underlying factor in the Cherokee’s troubles.
But Native Americans as a whole remain one of the poorest groups in the U.S. They lag behind in average incomes and educational attainment. They suffer disproportionately from the social ills of poverty, including domestic abuse, alcoholism, and diabetes.
The riches are not shared among all tribes by any means. Those Indians who are prospering must take care to responsibly manage growth, guard against corruption, and protect the best parts of their traditional culture. But against a backdrop of real suffering, a little prosperity is a very good thing.