I put “economics” in quotes because, well, you know, it’s not really eco-nomics, not eco at all, but rather, ego-nomics, that of fat, well-fed corporatists maximizing greed.
On the other hand, we need to remember that we Americans of European descent also participate in this capitalist greed ego-nomy. At various levels, various scales. It’s the poisoned water we all swim in.
Well, you might say, Indian tribes operate their own gambling casinos. They participate strongly in our addictive capitalist culture. Ah, yes, I say, more power to them, for “capitalizing” on our greed for money and stuff that functions, at best, as an unconscious substitute for our original communion with Mother Nature. A communion that Native Americans, historically, and from time immemorial, are rooted within. And, let us remember: unlike “winner take all” Trumpish casinos, profits from Indian casinos are meant to benefit the tribe as a whole.
The revenue from casinos on Indian reservations is meant to be spent on charitable ventures and tribal government operations.
Of course, some Native Americans have been poisoned by our capitalist well. How could they not be? It’s the larger, dominant atmosphere they swim in, too.
All of which makes the extraordinary, non-violent stand-off at Standing Rock even more poignant as winter sets in.
Many ethnic groups that make up modern American culture have traditionally viewed giving in terms of recognition, power, or prestige. However, for most Native Americans, giving is a way to honor future generations and clan members. There are many forms of giving in Native American culture. Two rather well known examples are those of barter and potlatch, both of which demonstrate the Native American philosophy that giving should be mutual and equal by all parties (Millett and Orosz 2002).
Historically, the definitions of giving and values of wealth were so different between Native American and European American culture that there was a gap in understanding and often a barrier of exchange and trust between the cultures. Until European Americans became the dominant culture in North America, Native Americans existed as hunters and gatherers, surviving by taking what they needed from the world and interacting with one another in a gift economy that relied on an understanding of trade, barter, and wealth distribution. European Americans relied on a commodity economy and placed a stronger emphasis on the accumulation of wealth and goods.
Here’s the primer. As usual, just “follow the money.”