Another Stereotype of the Month entry:
The California Aggie Online
Russ Fagaly — Chief Winaton and his drunks
By Russ Fagaly
February 18, 2003 -- It was Friday night, and I found myself on assignment. I was neck-deep in a story so big that my own life was in danger at every moment. I knew right from the start that this story could thrust me into the national spotlight.
Was I investigating oils spills and pelicans with my man, Denzel? Not exactly. Was I chasing down French heroin dealers, dodging bullets for the safety of the city? Not quite. Or was I trying to determine just who has been poisoning the Davis water? (You know, I'd be Erin Brockovich without breasts.) Nope, I was on assignment at Cache Creek, the local Indian casino, spending my college loans away.
For the handful of you who have never been to Cache Creek — and you are a very lucky group of individuals — let me paint a picture of how the thing works.
Four to six individuals — college kids — usually in varying degrees of intoxication, drive 45 minutes to an hour out to Godknowswhere.
Once in the boonies, they walk straight to the ATM machine, empty out last month's savings, and then proceed to lose it all. Well, to be fair, usually one person comes back a winner. But it's Indian gaming; the reality is that everyone is a loser.
I don't even know why people go to Cache Creek in the first place. The name of the chief who runs the Cache Creek tribe is Chief Winaton. Now I want you to stop and think about that name for a second. Chief Win-A-Ton. Am I missing something here?
But there I was, flipping the slots handle and tapping that video game poker screen. I'm no cards expert and was too afraid to try my hand at the over-populated blackjack tables. But my senses told me that's where all the action was going down, so I went over to see what I could find.
On any given night, Cache Creek has its handful of piss-drunk college students, but by far the dominant customers are older, middle-aged people. I don't know where they all come from — Sacramento, I guess. And everyone seems to be smoking cigarettes as well. So not only was I losing my money, but my lungs were being trashed at an alarming rate.
That's one tactic of the Chief's I quickly picked up on; they can sell you horrifically expensive drinks by completely drying out your throat with the stench of Marlboro and Newport. The longer I stayed at the casino, the closer I got to the raw, gritty truth my editor had dispatched me to find.
I was right; the conspiracy to confiscate the wealth of college kids and urban America was to be uncovered at the blackjack tables. Maybe it was me, but it seemed like people at the tables were barely conscious. People just seemed to be randomly grabbing cards and tapping the tabletop. I could barely keep up, but it looked like all of the gamblers were under some sort of drunken spell.
And just as I came upon the truth, they caught me. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by half a dozen security guards clad in dark blue blazers and beaver-skinned moccasins. I was whisked away from the tables to a small interrogation room. They had figured out who I was and knew who I worked for. I thought for sure they were going to ask me with which hand I signal my partner, or do something drastic like stick my head in a vise. I was a spy amid the enemy, and I had been captured. How would I explain this to my editor?
Just when I thought it was the end for me, I was saved by Chief Winaton's wife, the ever-gracious Sits With a Full House (you may remember the great Robin Williams mentioning her in his latest sketch). And as she escorted me outside the building, she let me in on the one secret that I had traveled miles and miles to learn. "The trick we learned from the white man was a good one," she told me. "Get them liquored up, and they'll do anything."
We send them disease and famine, and repay it by letting them legalize gambling?! How the hell does that work? I'm just waiting for the new Cache Creek Strip Club to open up across the street. With any luck, that'll be my next assignment.
RUSS FAGALY wants to know what you think of gambling Native-style. Let him know at email@example.com. And remember that elections are today and tomorrow, and as they say in Chicago: vote early and vote often.
A mix of old and new stereotypes here: "Chief Winaton"...employees wearing beaver-skinned moccasins..."Sits with a Full House"...Indians conspiring to put people under a "drunken spell"..."the enemy"..."everyone is a loser."
The big chief
"Funny" Indian names
The facts about Indian gaming
. . .
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