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Download Hitting the Jackpot: The Inside Story of the Richest Indian Tribe in History epub

by Brett Duval Fromson

From Connecticut and Maine to California, the explosion of Indian tribes with massive gambling operations has prompted a fierce nationwide debate. Hitting the Jackpot reveals the true story of how the Mashantucket Pequots of Connecticut became the richest Indian tribe in history.The culmination of a three-year investigation, Fromson uncovers a labyrinthine tale of legal maneuverings, back-room political dealings, and ethnic reinvention. Fromson details the step-by-step process by which today's Pequots gained tribal recognition, hired top lawyers to claim thousands of acres of land, exploited a state law meant for church yard sales to gain the right to open Foxwoods, now a $1.2 billion-a-year operation, and distilled the barest traces of Pequot lineage into a full-fledged tribe with over six hundred new tribal members, a yearly pow-wow that offers the biggest cash prizes in America, and a $250 million museum, one of the costliest in American history.
Download Hitting the Jackpot: The Inside Story of the Richest Indian Tribe in History epub
ISBN: 0802141714
ISBN13: 978-0802141712
Category: History
Subcategory: Americas
Author: Brett Duval Fromson
Language: English
Publisher: Grove Press (August 10, 2004)
Pages: 236 pages
ePUB size: 1496 kb
FB2 size: 1901 kb
Rating: 4.2
Votes: 366
Other Formats: doc rtf lrf mbr

From 1635 to the final chapter, I was thoroughly amazed by the author's method of presentation. This was a very complicated and historical treatise. Even I was able to follow the text.
Talk about a "comedy of errors" the Pequots established their tribe at many people's expense and especially that of the federal and state governments.
This should be required reading for all students of high school level.
The reading is enjoyable until up to the present day, where then, you find that uneducated people cannot be "given" money and especially that much money.
The book has changed my outlook of Foxwoods Casino and all "sovereign" land gambling.
Lets hope that all that money will be used to curb their use of drugs and other excesses.
Maybe someone will write of the Mohegans and all of their problems.
Brett Fromson's book "Running and Fighting" led me to this book, "Hitting The Jackpot". I had picked up "Running and Fighting" at a garage sale. After reading Fromson's style and research, I wanted to know more about his writings. "Hitting the Jackpot" reveals what many of us think about the condition of our government. When one committee or department is unable to collaborate with another, the process becomes useless. Strong personalities can toss major justices aside and the total good to a country is gone.
Interesting history of American Indians really hitting the Jackpot.
Brett Duval Fromson masterfully blends news accounts and original interviews into the story of how one man and his family members won federal recognition as an Indian tribe and larded the campaign coffers of elected officials in exchange for a monopoly on casino gambling in Connecticut.
Great book!
The rights and the plight of Native Americans have gathered a lot of public interest in the last two decades. But the growing prominence of Native American Indians has turned into a two edged sword in Connecticut.

On the one hand, Indians are getting some long overdue justice. On the other hand, with the help of murky financial backers and questionable politicians, many American Indian tribes have turned to gambling to help them achieve the American dream. The result is not a pretty picture.

Brett Fromson, a former Washington Post journalist with roots in Connecticut, is the latest to tell the story of the Mashantucket Pequots, one of the most successful Indian tribes in North America. Foxwoods, the Mashantucket Pequot casino in southeastern Connecticut has grown into one of the largest gambling establishments in the world.

Alas the story, as Fromson recounts it, is a nightmare. In his book, Hitting the Jackpot--the Inside Story of the Richest Indian Tribe in History (Atlantic Monthly Press), Fromson describes how the Mashantucket Pequots evolved from a single descendant-- Eliza George, a frail old woman who lived alone on the remnants of a tiny reservation in Ledyard, Connecticut--into a sovereign tribe that had the backing of Connecticut politicians and Arab and Malaysian investors.

Fromson's book reads like an indictment. He describes how the pervasive influence of money essentially corrupted an Indian tribe that had questionable historical origins to begin with. He tells how the Mashantucket Pequots and their backers flaunted the regulations under which the federal government is supposed to protect the interests of Native Americans.

And, in an author's talk that he gave at the Kent Memorial Library on February 29, Fromson charged that the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the Department of Interior has evolved from an agency overseeing Indian affairs into a "corrupt" lobbying arm of Native American Indian tribes.

"I think there is a (need) for the BIA to be challenged," Fromson said in his talk at the Library. "I think you have a bunch of hacks who are in the pockets of the tribes. There is no accountability, and where there is no accountability, there is always an opportunity for corruption."

Most Americans believe that Indians got the short end of the stick in the first 300 years of American history. In the tradition of fair play that characterizes the American psyche, a large part of the American public believes the Indians should be given certain advantages to compensate them for the injustices they faced.

But does that mean that remnant tribes or families with sometimes dubious Indian heritage should be elevated to a rarified sovereign status that allows them to live under a separate set of laws from the rest of the American citizens?

Fromson writes that a system that was developed to help the Indians has been corrupted by lawyers, business developers and foreign money. The Mashantucket Pequots initially applied for recognition following federal guidelines, but the lawyers, with the help of Connecticut elected representatives (principally then Sen. Lowell Weicker and Rep. Sam Gejdenson), skirted the BIA guidelines and won federal recognition through an act of Congress. Fromson contends that the lawyers intentionally avoided the BIA process because the Mashantucket Pequots could not have met the BIA guidelines for federal recognition.

So Congress was persuaded by old fashioned political horse trading to give the Mashantucket Pequots federal recognition-- and that political coup started a process under which the Mashantucket Pequots built a gambling empire. First an Arab bank put up $6 million to create an elaborate bingo parlor, and then a wealthy Chinese businessman from Malaysia, Lim Goh Tong, was persuaded to invest $60 million (under very favorable terms, including a percentage of revenue and the profits) to construct a huge casino on the Mashantucket reservation.

The rest was history. Foxwoods came into being, and the Mashantucket Pequots soon became rich beyond their wildest dreams.

Yet for the most part true happiness eludes the Indians. Intra-tribal feuds, some of them with racial overtones, have roiled the tribe. Skip Haywood, the grandson of Eliza George, who spearheaded the rise of the Mashantucket Pequots (with the help from two lawyers from Maine), was voted out as Chairman of the tribe, to be replaced by Kenny Reels, a black "Pequot" from Rhode Island, who himself has since been replaced.

Members of the tribe who lived on the reservation were more concerned with their annual "incentive" awards and their BMW and Mercedes automobiles than with maintaining their culture, according to Fromson; many tribal youths were into drugs; violence broke out on the reservation, and the Connecticut State Police were told to stay off the reservation.

Moreover, the Mashantucket Pequot culture does not really exist, according to Fromson. He describes how a huge $250 million museum was built at Foxwoods to celebrate the Mashantucket Pequot culture, but there is little Pequot culture in the museum. Rather the artifacts and exhibits were drawn from all over the Northeast (and beyond) and, at best, the museum celebrates the public perception of the North American Indian culture.

Indeed, Fromson questions whether the current Mashantucket Pequot "tribe" is, in fact, an American Indian tribe.

"We are the first tribe in American history to be formed around money," says Bruce Kirchner who is a member of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council, as reported in the book.

Writes Fromson:

"There has been considerable public skepticism about the genealogical authenticity of today's Pequots. Writers have alleged that none of them descend from the original Pequots. These questions cannot be answered with complete certainty without an independent genealogical investigation and today's tribe will not allow such an inquiry for both political and privacy reasons." Fromson himself questions whether the Pequots could demonstrate any tribal characteristics: In one of the rare moments of humor in the book, the author describes how, when tribal representatives were asked at a Native American gathering to sing a Pequot song, they sang "You Are My Sunshine" because it was the only song all of them knew.

Fromson's book is not the first about the Mashantucket Pequots. The first book about the development of gambling in southeast Connecticut was Without Reservation, by Jeff Benedict, published in 2000. Revenge of the Pequots--How a Small Native American Tribe Created the World's Most Profitable Casino, by Kim Isaac Eisler, was published in 2001. Now we have Fromson's version of the history. All three books, in their own way, describe the same events, each with their own unique perspective.

All three books also point out how destructive the evolution of Indian gambling casinos has been on the cultural and social structure of Southeast Connecticut. Where once there was a placid, rural environment, there is now a huge tourism industry, complete with huge traffic jams, crime and drug trafficking.

Moreover, with their new found riches, the Indians have tried to buy up land and attach it to their original reservations. Fromson describes one incident where the Mashantucket Pequots were not successful in this regard, but he warns that they will probably be ultimately successful in expanding their reservation.

Fromson's book is an instructive book, especially for the people of Kent and Northwest Connecticut. In this regard, Fromson is the first to make the link between the Schaghticokes in Kent and the other Indian tribes in Connecticut. As Fromson relates it, the Indian movement was sparked in the early 1970's when the head of the Schaghticokes, Irving Harris, tried to organize the Connecticut Indians. Harris was not successful, but he did bring the plight of the Indians to the attention of the United Auto Workers Union, who took up the Indian cause.

In January of this year, the BIA gave recognition to the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation--despite gaps in its political and historical culture. Like the Pequots there are intra-tribal feuds within the Schaghticoke Indians, and like the Pequots, the Schaghticokes have plans to develop a casino--somewhere in western Connecticut, if they can find a community that wants a casino. Bridgeport and Waterbury are considered the most likely candidates for a Schaghticoke casino.

There is an axiom that says the past is prologue. Let's hope that the recent past history of the Mashantucket Pequots is not the prologue to the development of the Schaghticoke Indians here in the Northwest Corner.
Contrary to the assertions of its paid detractors, this book documents the destruction of the original Mashantucket Pequots, and illustrates their replacement with a "tribe" of people who would fail genetic testing to determine whether they had any Indian blood in them whatsoever. After documenting Mashantucket Pequot history, it tells the modern story of Skip Hayward, and how he conspired with a cabal of lawyers and lobbyists to establish Tribal Gaming in on the Mashantucket Pequot reservation in Connecticut. It documents how Hayward illicitly increased the tribal roles (with non-Indians) in order to obtain federal recognition, with the ultimate goal of establishing Tribal Gaming and striking it rich. It also tells the tragic tale of how the very non-Indians whom Hayward invited into the tribe ultimately turned the tables on Hayward and his family, driving them from leadership of the tribal council, and the abuses the new "tribe" engaged in. "Hitting the Jackpot" is a cautionary tale not only to the people of Connecticut and their politicians, but also to American Indians throughout the country who would pursue Tribal Gaming as a way to become rich. This is an excellent read and is highly recommended.
A good book on a fascinating subject. One of the things I got from this case history is that a few committed bureaucrats and lawyers can massage the system in such a way as to turn a couple hundred folks with a very tenuous link to the First Nations into fairly powerful and semi-rich people.
I feel that the First Nations were the victims of a massive injustice and deserve any break they can get. What shocks me is that the Pequots who run Foxwoods are raking it in without really being victims of anything.
Anyway, a fascinating book told in a pedestrian style. But one of the sloppiest editing jobs I've ever seen. Typos and repeated phrases are inexcusable in a pricey hardcover release.