Without Reservation: The Making of America's Most Powerful Indian Tribe and Foxwoods the World's Largest Casino
How to take advantage of a corrupt government and a president with no knowledge or concern for the traditional people!
This review is from: Without Reservation: The Making of America's Most Powerful Indian Tribe and Foxwoods the World's Largest Casino (Hardcover)
This story is another follow up of
The forgotten Indians without Filed under: Sachem's words — Leave a comment October 29, 2012
One of the many things you need to remember while reading the rest of this posting. The three women spoken about were Mohegan not Pequot as part of some families sent over years earlier to occupy the village so as not to lost it to the Europeans.
My family is from Uncasvillage just accross the Pequot river.
"Without Reservation: The Making of America's Most Powerful Indian Tribe and Foxwoods, the World's Largest Casino" by Jeff Benedict is an absorbing portrait of an extraordinary phenomenon - the emergence from obscurity within the past three decades of the Mashantucket Pequot Indian tribe and their rapid climb to unparalleled wealth through their Foxwoods Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut. I am sure that many people view these events as a particularly gratifying example of a "rags to riches" story, given the justifiable sympathy now widely felt towards Native Americans after centuries of betrayal and injustice. However, as someone who has spent most of his adult life as a resident of southeastern Connecticut and who is personally acquainted with some of the people discussed in Benedict's book, I have been long aware that the story of the Pequot's and their casino is more complex and perhaps less inspirational than might appear at first glance.
"Without Reservation" raises serious questions about whether the Mashantucket Pequot's are who they claim to be, a legitimate tribe of Native Americans. Simply put, are they instead merely opportunists claiming an Indian identity to fraudulently cash in on laws and programs intended to help genuine Native Americans? Some historic tribes in the East after centuries of intermarriage with persons of European and/or African descent and through acculturation with the white society have ceased to exist. According to Benedict's research, Richard "Skip" Hayward, the leader who formulated and led the supposed resurrection of the Mashantucket Pequot tribe in the 1970's, has no traceable Pequot ancestry at all. Benedict contends that Hayward's entire Indian descent comes solely through his great-great-grandfather, a man who identified himself not as a Pequot, but as a Narragansett (ironically, the Narragansett's were one of the tribes who allied themselves with the English during the 17th Century war which destroyed the power of the original Pequot tribe). Records indicate that Hayward had consistently identified himself as being "white" until the mid-1970's when it suddenly became advantageous to claim he was a Native American to gain possession of the small "Western Pequot" reservation maintained by the State of Connecticut and to pursue a legal claim against neighboring properties. Benedict further asserts that the Mashantucket Pequot tribe, when granted Federal recognition by a special Act of Congress in 19XX, would have been wholly unable to meet the Bureau of Indian Affairs requirements for such Federal recognition. In his view, many people, sincere in their desire to help Native Americans obtain financial and cultural security, were deceived into supporting a fraudulent cause and unintentionally allowed a small group of imposters to gain extraordinary power by operating a gambling casino shielded from taxation and state regulation. The enormous quantity of dollars flowing through Foxwoods Casino has radically altered the economic structure of the region, for good or ill, and has given the Mashantucket's enormous clout through their frequent and heavy contributions to political parties and elected officials.
Hayward as presented in Benedict's book is a fascinating paradox. Is he a charismatic visionary who followed his dream to skillfully lead his people into wealth and independence, or is he a deceptive manipulator who lied and cheated nearly everyone en route to personal riches and influence? The answer supplied by Benedict's book seems to be that Hayward is both. "Without Reservation" does not stop with Skip Hayward's climb to wealth and power, but continues on through his subsequent fall from tribal leadership, overthrown by other Mashantucket's whose claim of Pequot identity is as suspect as that of Hayward himself. The picture which Benedict paints is one of naked greed and arrogance rising to the top.
I am certain that some people will dismiss Benedict's book as being "anti-Indian", but that is not the case. His contention is that the Mashantucket Pequot's are simply not an Indian tribe in any genuine sense of the term, and that they have taken advantage of and have perverted situations created for the benefit of actual Native American peoples. I am equally certain that his claims will be vigorously denounced by the Mashantucket's, and I eagerly look forward to seeing what evidence, if any, can be produced to counter Benedict's arguments.
Jeff Benedict has written a book which tells a compelling story, although undoubtedly it will not be the final word on the subject. It is a story skillfully told in a gripping narrative which vividly depicts the actors in the drama: the Mashantucket's, the politicians, the ordinary citizens who woke up to find the world's largest casino springing to life in their rural community, and of course the ever-present lawyers, eager to distort and shade the truth in their roles of advocates (or in their chase of the big bucks).