Casino Profits and Angry Indians

The New York Times ran a fantastic story earlier this week on how casino money has torn Indian tribes in California apart. Tribal leaders in that state have taken to booting their members (sometimes longtime members) out on account of questionable genealogy. Really, the Times reports, the issue is that some tribal leaders just want to shrink the number of people they have to share their casino profits with.

The Mashpee Wampanoag, who are very much right now trying to open a casino in southeastern Massachusetts, of course have had their own problems with shunning. As recently as five years ago, former tribal chair Glenn Marshall kicked members out of the tribe as a political tool to silence dissent (that dissent, of course, was related to the Mashpees’ pursuit of a casino). To his credit, when current chair Cedric Cromwell came to power in 2009, he welcomed those shunned by Marshall back into the tribe. Still, considering how deeply the casino issue has already divided the Mashpee, what’s happened in California remains very much a cautionary tale.