Drive through the Southwest and you will find out there are a lot of Indian Tribes....in fear of forgetting some, I will not mention any. But a lot more than I remember as kid growing up. In fact, there were only a handful of Indians and one or two tribes I can remember from films and TV in the 50's. For the most part, the only thing I recall being taught about TV Indians is they were highly allergic to alcohol, were able to place their ear to the ground in Arizona and let you know the travel movements of trains in West Virginia and had a remarkable tendency to show up at the right time to get their asses kicked by any drunk local who chose. It was amazing that not one hero of the West could speak their language, yet so many of them could SPEAK-UM our language...and some times with a poetic cadence that could rival the best wordsmiths of the time.
Well, driving through the Southwest has become a new found lesson in Native American culture. So many tribes have set up trading posts, souvenir shops and museums. And some art galleries have gone to great lengths to capture, endure and pass along the treasures these cultures had. But...as I pass by the umpteenth trading post and the gazillion historical monument and sandwich shops, I have found one of the best lasting testimonies to their culture and ability to assimilate into white america....the Indian Casino. Finally there is a way to truly tell the difference from the Agua Caliente Tribe and the Seminole Tribe. One allows you to double down on anything in Blackjack while the other only allows doubling down on 10 or 11.
There is a great argument to be made on how the pioneer, cowboy and railroading desires of the 1800 may have treated these people harshly and did all within their power to destroy them, I think it is pail in comparison to the silent method we have employed today. Walk into any Indian Casino today and after you rinse your eyes with a gallon or two of Murine, and start breathing from the mask dropped from the ceiling, you will see how we have decided to kill them all off with second hand smoke.
I know I saw a few Indians there. But somehow the poetic language was gone. As I coughed out a request for change of my hundred, I was responded to with a simple "Sure!" Maybe it was the Piscean Rose-Colored glasses kid in me who wanted to hear something like the old 50's TV asking "You WANT-UM chips of colors made from sand in mountainous rock? Instead I got "All Red?" The smell in my clothes lasted longer than my visit to most of these casinos. I am not sure who is getting back at who. Maybe they are by taking our money through the games of chance....maybe we are by taking years off their lives by employing them in the modern day coal mine. As I left I noticed I could pull the hand of Chief Sitting Bull for 5 bucks with hopes of winning millions. His hand looked pretty worn. I wonder if he ever knew one day we would welcome his daily visit as a hope of prosperity??