Casino wealth and well-being: The tale of two tribes
You could call it “The tale of two tribes,” one a tribe of millionaires in Minnesota; the other a less-fortunate tribe in Oregon. Though wildly dissimilar in circumstances, they share a common malady: a dependency curse that tribal leaders now see as a cause of epic social problems, from alcoholism to suicides and parental dysfunction.
The Mdewakanton Sioux of Minnesota are dependent not on the government, but on the wealth of a gambling enterprise that provides an unbelievable $1 million for each adult member each year, making them the wealthiest native tribe in the country, by far. That should make them an unmitigated success story, but it doesn’t. In fact, for the Sioux, dependence on gaming could be viewed as a curse as well as a well-demonstrated cure. It has indeed produced tribal self-sufficiency. But it also has eliminated the incentive for the natives to get an education and a job, causing some to turn to drinking and drugs to compensate for empty lives. It has led to feuds and fights for control over the lucrative gambling business. It has caused a gambling addiction for some members. And it has led young people to be spoiled and undisciplined.