Cultural centres casinos and change
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Cultural Centres, Casinos and Change. TRMT 396 Lecture #7. Dan McDonald. Putting on a Public Face to Effect Change. Both casinos & cultural centres can be seen as efforts to effect change Sovereignty and Survival at the core of each Whether to focus on economy or culture as the route

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Cultural centres casinos and change

Cultural Centres, Casinos and Change

TRMT 396

Lecture #7

Dan McDonald

Putting on a public face to effect change

Putting on a Public Face to Effect Change

  • Both casinos & cultural centres can be seen as efforts to effect change

  • Sovereignty and Survival at the core of each

  • Whether to focus on economy or culture as the route

  • Local conditions, history and relations shape the choice and the evolution

The casino landscape

The Casino Landscape

  • Gaming on reserves in U.S since the 1940’s bingo halls

  • (1982)Indian Casinos first legalized in Minnesota

  • Mid 8o’s court cases in Florida & California

  • U.S. steps in to regulate with NIGC

  • (1996) Casino Rama (ONT) & Bear Claw (SK)open

  • Presently 17 in Canada (out of 70+ total) but 200+ in U.S.

The new buffalo

The ‘New Buffalo'

  • For many communities first real economic driver in a century

  • Allows ↑choice/agency in contrast to program based development

  • Some capital payouts ( e.g. Mystic Lake)but most use to make social investment & ↑ land base

  • Often catalyst & funding source for creation of cultural centre (e.g. Yavapai Apache)

  • Wealth can shift balance of relationships & shift view to net contributor (e.g. 1999 est. Tulalip injects 25.4 mil into local economy; Foxwoods donated $1 mil to start tourism organization)

  • Not all large- many small, with local focus

The potential downside of casinos

The Potential Downside of Casinos

  • Impacts can be rapid and fall both ways (e.g. Foxwoods gets 50,000 visitors each day)

  • Social outfall (crime, addiction, etc)

  • Cash basis of the business ( ↑ risk of theft & embezzlement)

  • Profits may undermine cultural integrity (e.g enrolment demand in some communities)

  • Can exacerbate inequality between tribes (urban/rural)

  • Often outsider dominance of top jobs

  • Temporal nature – potential boom/bust

Anders (1999)

Cultural display in casinos

Cultural Display in Casinos

  • Often with tribal motifs and entertainment

  • Sometimes a conscious link to Nature

    • Pequot’s slogan of “Gaming in Its Natural State”

  • Tribal members in front line positions

  • Community events venue

Trading in cultural expression

Trading in Cultural Expression

  • Chosen cultural Expression has links to others

  • Expressions vary in importance re sustaining community

  • Outside influence can cause substitution or adaption

  • Expressions can be linked (strength varies)

    • ↑in one = ↑in all/ ↓in one= ↓in all

    • ↑in one = ↓in others etc.

  • ↑Attention, can ↑practice & strength

  • Knowing significance is key

Carter (2003)

A centre for all reasons

A Centre for all Reasons

  • Protect a significant cultural site

  • Tell history from their perspective

  • Create a place to learn from the elders

  • Increase community member employment

  • Recognize ownership of land

  • Both external (cultural tourism, museum display) and internal (teaching language, preserving memories, maintaining social ties, caring for the land, etc) foci

Christen (2007)

Shared potlatch history told uniquely

Shared Potlatch History Told Uniquely



  • Stress the imposition of colonial power & survival

  • Reversal of ‘gaze’ with visitor objectified

  • No owners names

  • Little interpretation/depends on local to explain

  • Involve greater community in dance & language program

  • Legitimize a local hierarchical system & families

  • Grouped by family early on , but still identify

  • Stress honouring memory

  • Exclusive authorized performers/legitimize current leaders

Mauzé (2003)

Sharpening distinctiveness

Sharpening Distinctiveness

  • Evidence of start in 1800’s

  • Study of 4 centres

    • Mashantucket Pequot, Navajo, Wind River (Eastern Shoshone) , Acoma

  • Evoking difference

    • Visibly invisible

    • Audibly inaudible

  • “displayed withholding”

  • This discourse can cause internal divides as well

Lawlor (2006)

Concluding thoughts

Concluding Thoughts

  • Is it a choice of priorities or of means?

  • Are the costs worth the gains, both within communities and in the region?

  • Both choices are open to judgment from the dominant society and visitors

  • Both “spaces of hope” for success and re-dress

Additional sources

Additional Sources

  • Anders, G. (1999). Indian Gaming: Financial and Regulatory Issues. In Johnson, T. (ed). Contemporary Native American Political Issues. Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press.

  • Belanger, Y. (2011). First Nations Gaming in Canada. Winnipeg, MB: University of Manitoba Press.

  • Christen, K. (2007). Following the Nyinkka: Relations of Respect and Obligation to Act in the Collaborative Work of Aboriginal Cultural Centers. Museum Anthropology. 30 (2): 101-124.

  • Cozetto, D. (1995). The Economic and Social Implications of Indian Gaming: The Case of Minnesota. American Indian Culture and Research Journal. 19 (1): 119-131.

  • d’ Hauteserre, A-M. (20oo). Lessons in managed destination competitiveness: the case of Foxwoods Casino Resort. Tourism Management.21: 23-32.

  • Lawlor, M.(2006). Public Native America: Tribal Self-Representation in Museums, Powwows and Casinos. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers.

  • Zeppel, H. (2002). Cultural Tourism at the Cowichan Native Village, British Columbia. Journal of Travel Research. 41: 92-100.

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