Module 3. Our Story: Native Americans
THE RECENT PAST
Beginning in the 1980s, the pseudo-reparations that Native Americans were awarded by the government came in the form of Indian Gaming operations. In a landmark case, California v. Cabazon, the Cabazon and Morongo Mission Indians won the right to run gaming facilities on tribal lands. After this ruling, gambling operations arose in other reservation lands across the nation. The late 80s witnessed legislation to tax and regulate Indian gaming, but otherwise, these establishments allowed tribes to generate wealth for their communities. Profits and distribution of profits vary from tribe to tribe. Currently, blood quantum continues to be the defining factor of tribal membership and to be a member after the rise of Indian gaming carried much more significance.
The 21st century continued to bring more cultural awareness to Americans. The myth of Columbus and his “discovery” has been broken, and the violence and political policies of the 19th and early 20th centuries are included in the historical narrative. Indigenous Day has been added to the calendar, the rediscovery of American Indian culture continues, and stereotypes of Native Americans are disappearing from logos and mascots. However, there is still much progress to be made. Native Americans still have remarkably low degrees in higher education, and an average low median income compared to other racial and ethnic groups. COVID-19 severely impacted reservation communities. Chief Joseph, a leader of the Nez Perce once said, “Good words do not last long unless they amount to something.” As Americans, it is important that we stand by the promises of the Declaration of Independence, equality, life, liberty, and happiness.