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Greedy Indians

Fueling disregard for the concerns of Indians is not only their scant numbers, but the stereotype of the contemporary Indian. Even the success of a few tribal casinos hasn't helped much, according to Indian rights supporters, who say the image of Indians as fat alcoholics looking for their next drink has only been replaced by the image of fat cats on the prowl for their next money-making scheme.

Dean Schabner, ABCNews.com, 2/22/01

Somehow, since the passage of Proposition 1A, Native Americans have been cast as no longer a humble, responsible, community-oriented people. Instead, we have been relegated to casino tribes and casino barons, intent on skirting environmental and social obligations, corrupting the political process, and violating the public's trust.

These stereotypes have the potential to create a new type of intolerance that Native Americans have never experienced -- class envy.

I submit to you that the greatest threat facing California Native Americans is not Governor Schwarzenegger; it is not the state's attempt to extract 25% of our revenues; it is not compact negotiations; it is not even the deceptive Gaming Revenue Act; it is the stereotype that Native Americans are casino barons, flush with cash, and beyond government and public reproach.

Anthony Miranda, chairman, California Nations Indian Gaming Association, speech at UCLA symposium ("American Indian Issues and the California Press"), 4/20/04

"In watching trends around the country, it has become clear that the overall public perception of American Indians is being swayed by disinformation," Johnson said in his opening remarks. "This puts tribes at a disadvantage as these perceptions lead directly to the development of public policy."

"Media coverage prepares and reflects public policy and coverage which, today, is becoming unsympathetic, negative and politically damaging," agreed Barreiro. Citing California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's infamous "the Indians are ripping us off" quote, Barreiro said: "We need to respond in real time to immediately challenge the factual basis of such statements. Once a metaphor like that is cemented, it's hard to change."

Policy and Media Relationship Explored, Indian Country Today, 6/24/05


Another way to denigrate Indians
The "greedy" Indian is the latest in a series of related stereotypes. Savage Indians killed unmercifully. Uncivilized Indians engaged in ungodly rites. Good-for-nothing Indians refused to become hard-working Christians. Indians as welfare recipients learned how to live off government handouts. Now "greedy Indians" are using gaming to enrich themselves at other people's expense.

In reality, a "greedy Indian" is someone who lobbies the government, enters into money-making deals, and earns a comfortable living. In other words, it's someone who acts like a typical Euro-American. Who pursues the so-called American dream.

But Indians aren't supposed to show up in our neighborhoods, our workplaces, our civic institutions. They aren't supposed to vote, lobby for legislation, or file suits in court. They're supposed to stay on the remote reservations where we put them. If we had wanted them to be rich, we would've let them keep their original land (along with its animals, vegetables, and minerals).

If they try to rise above their station, to join us in the upwardly-mobile middle class, they must be greedy by definition. Why else would they try to go where they don't belong, to take what isn't theirs? Only Euro-Americans can do that with a clear conscience.

The greedy Indian is closely related to the Indian as welfare recipient. The latter sits around drinking and waiting for his monthly welfare check. The former actively schemes to take the white man's hard-earned dollars.

Note:  For the purposes of this essay, a rich or too-rich Indian is the same as a greedy Indian. Although it's possible to be rich without being greedy or greedy without being rich, the traits are closely related. Most Americans would say anyone who earns more than he or she should is greedy by definition.

Indian-bashing = Jew-bashing
When minorities "threaten" us, we take steps to put them in their place. Armed Americans mob and lynch them, while the rest of us assault them verbally. A favored technique is to exaggerate their characteristics to almost demonical proportions—to stereotype them.

Now that Indians are playing the capitalist game just like white folks, their newfound prosperity is an obvious thing to attack. Therefore, mainstream Americans are applying the same criticisms they did to the "greedy Jews," who were similarly dispossessed and isolated. "They're making more money than we are," goes the thinking, "so they must be doing something wrong, unnatural, unholy."

An article titled Indian-Bashing: A New Pastime In 'Tolerant' Dane County? explains this well. From the Wisconsin State Journal, 12/29/03:

In the 1980s, Indian-bashing was directed against a "poor" minority, using the type of prejudice previously reserved for African Americans. In the 2000s, Indian-bashing is directed against a supposedly "rich" minority, using a type of prejudice previously reserved for Jews.

Like European Jews, Native Americans have developed particular financial industries because they have been denied control over land, and left with other few economic options. And like the myth of the "rich Jew," the myth of the "rich Indian" implies that all tribal members are swimming in money. The truth is that most tribes are heavily in debt, cutting budgets, and still being shaken down by state governments.

In the 1980s, Indians were bashed for being on welfare, now they are being bashed for getting off welfare. The tribes have also reduced welfare caseloads and funded programs for their neighboring communities. Tribes are now the largest employers in at least eight [Wisconsin] counties, even employing some former anti-treaty protesters.

Whites are generally not criticized for gaining wealth from a lucrative industry. Yet somehow, Native Americans are expected to play by different rules, and not to lobby or contribute to politicians as white groups have done for decades.

To compare the "greedy" stereotype of Jews with that of Indians, see the following:

Rich Tribes, Rich Jews: Comparing the New Anti-Indianism to Historic Anti-Semitism
The Merchant of Venice
Making Sense of Jewish Stereotypes
Declining Acceptance of Nearly All Jewish Stereotypes
Christian Witness to Israel:  Stereotypes

Greedy Indians in the Stereotype of the Month contest
Play the greedy-tribe game!
Corrupt Minn. politicians granted tax-free monopoly to tribes
"Greedy" tribal "bosses" disenroll members to increase "vig"
Giago:  Poor tribes are the victims of the rich tribes' success
Cooper:  Calif. gaming tribes act like "rapacious" corporations
Macarro, "henchmen" decimate Pechangas "with...prejudice"
Morain:  Greedy "Casino Tribes Try to Keep Entire Pot"
Milanovich called "Chief Greedovich," compared to Godfather
Jackson:  Seneca casino is "gambling joint" that'll "suck money"
Seneca "moneysuckers" to open a "gambling joint" by "fiat"
Indians want "$13 billion plus interest" of taxpayers' money
Agran labels tribes "salivating," gaming interests "relentless"
Stewart:  "'Indian land' is any land...gaming tribes can buy"
Quechan Pres. Jackson:  "[R]ich, greedy tribes" block pacts
Fort Mohave "shaking down" PG&E with "bogus claims"
Gaming tribes afflicted with greed, disunity, disenrollment
Yeagley:  Conn. Indians are fake, Calif. Indians are greedy
Schwarzenegger:  Indians full of "greed," "ripping us off"
Giago:  BIA hands out federal recognition like diplomas
"Get ready for the paving over of the southern Berkshires!"
Calif. tribes want "approval—read payoff" for sacred sites
Cartoon shows men in suits doing a rain dance for money
Fromson:  Communities "prostitute" themselves for gaming
Fromson:  Tribes are "fronts"; casinos will be "everywhere"
Tribal governments are "swimming in slot machine profits"
Gaming tribes are "shills" for their "corporate godfathers"
Cartoon:  Chief wants to "Save Our Graves" to build casino
Indian gaming offers little benefit but enriches tribal leaders
Tribes hear "gaming profits" and discover "sacred" lands
Fromson:  Pequots' shared value is "a desire for money"
WSJ's Murray:  Indians are the "villain...behind the tree"
Following "Cruz for Governor" stickers leads to casinos
"Frankenstein's monster" created by licensing tribal gaming
Schwarzenegger ad:  Gaming tribes should pay "fair share"
Griffin:  Kickapoo Indians are "Pond Scum of the Month"
Jackpot book paints Pequots as fakes, money grabbers
Casinos become "part of a foreign country"...an "empire"
Perkins:  Tribes prefer growing casinos to uplifting Indians
Natives "exempt themselves from the law of the land"
Chronicle cartoons show crying Indian, teepee with dice
Sonoma County fable:  "The little city and the big casino"
Fox News:  Indians "don't pay a penny in state taxes"
Yeagley:  "Seven white boys" supervise Blackfeet, others
Headline:  Chinooks want to build casino and make money
Indians will "say and do anything to get what they want"
Columnist calls Indians' lawyer "Chief Running Mouth"
"Chief Winaton" is "the enemy" at Cache Creek casino
Tucker Carlson:  Oneida land claims are "shakedowns"
Cartoon:  "Greedy Indians" reject corn, keep $1.5 billion
Ramirez cartoon:  "Chief" Gray Davis sells Calif. for $24
Lopez:  "Compacts are essentially a reparations program"
Tribal chairman compared to "psycho mobster Joe Pesci"
WSJ:  Indian gaming doesn't benefit "the poor Indians"
Denver Post:  Indians stealing from gov't., not vice versa
Cartoon implies California Indians want state for casinos
Natives' "ravening greed" will "disintegrate" rural Calif.
McCaleb:  Trust fund plaintiffs have no basis for case
TIME mag:  "Aid" to wealthy tribes robs poor tribes
Sioux Red Shirt says Eastern Indians aren't real Indians
TIME mag:  Non-Natives bankroll "instant reservations"
TIME mag:  Greedy tribes disenroll legitimate members
TIME mag:  Gaming "given" to some tribes, not others
O'Brien:  Native astronaut sent to convert Mir to casino
WSJ:  "Bureau of Casino Affairs" and "tribes" run casinos
Website:  Indians invisible until casinos offered money
WSJ decries rich Indians with motorboats in driveways
Editorial blames chiefs in SUVs for aboriginal problems
Aussie column:  "Purported" tribes are seeking recognition
Washington Post repeats "ruthless," "greedy" Indian slurs
Conn. editorial says "contrived tribes" seek recognition

Related links
Rich Indians
Victor or victim:  our new national anthem?
America's cultural mindset

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Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.

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