written by Norm:
Your comments about this column are welcome ~ e-mail Norm at
My earliest memory of Las Vegas was when I was about twelve years old. My mother and father drove with
me from Los Angeles to attend
the wedding of their best friends.
In those days Vegas was not much
more than a wide place in the road with a few hotels.
I think we
stayed at El Rancho. The thing I remember most is a popular tune,
“Little Brown Jug”. Over and over in my head I heard,
“Ha, ha, ha, you
and me. Little Brown Jug, do I love thee”.
think the hotel had a casino with a poker table and a roulette
know there were slot machines everywhere. I know that because
I saw one-armed bandits as they were known in the gas station
visited as we left. Legal gambling in Southern California was limited
to poker parlors in Gardena. I saw one once and it impressed
me as a
big room with lots of tables covered with green felt and people
at each table smoking and being really quiet. Some churches
games but that wasn’t considered real gambling.
have changed in Las Vegas and in the gaming world. Gaming
is the new
euphemism for getting rid of your money as fast as you can. Now
almost every county in California has an Indian casino.
We voters gave
the Indians permission to have limited gambling in a few limited
areas. We did this because we felt guilty about taking
away from the tribes way back when. Of course “we” weren’t there
at the time. People like Custer and the railroads and
the “white man”
did it. But we are somehow still held responsible so we voted
for gaming on Indian reservations.
weren’t (and aren’t) stupid. As soon as they realized
gaming was profitable, they looked around for land that might have
been a “reservation”
or burial ground or somehow connected to a
tribe in the past.
My wife’s cousin cultivates a few acres in Alexander Valley
that once was a tribal area. The tribe sold the land years ago for the
going price. Families have been raising crops
there for several
generations. The Rancherio Tribe wanted the land back about 30 years
ago claiming they were cheated. The State
of California finally
gave them land elsewhere and some money. The Dry Creek Rancheria Band
of Pomo Indians has built a casino on
the hillside above the
valley. Now as you gaze across lush vineyards you can see the huge
casino with it’s larger parking structure
and the area on which
they want to build a hotel and convention center. The narrow road
leading up to the casino is still two lanes.
gambling has invaded the Internet. And the Indians are there too.
Internet gambling is technically illegal in the United
it is a billion dollar business. The gambling sites are located off
shore. Some not so “off shore” if you remember that
there is no
ocean between Canada and us.
60 Minutes had a piece on Internet gambling a few weeks ago. They
computer server to a town in Canada. The town was located
on an Indian reservation. When asked if their enterprise was
gambling laws the Indian spokesman replied, “ We are
not Canadian. We are Indians residing in our own nation so not
subject to Canadian
law”. I wonder if the Canadian army will defend
them if another Indian tribe decides to go for their scalps.
don’t mind if
the Indians make a few dollars or euros or pesos off
people who find it fun to gamble. I just think it is wrong that
they claim special
privileges for acts that occurred many years ago. I
know that they were herded into out-of-the-way places and not
allowed to vote
or go to “white” schools. I know that the money they
make on gaming is supposed to right that wrong. But I don’t see
any Indian colleges
or universities or hospitals or businesses out
there. Maybe I need to go to Montana or Oklahoma to see the good
works they are doing.
I sure don’t see the revitalization of the
Indian culture in San Diego or Alexander Valley.
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