Casinos and American Indian Identity

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Jeff Benedict has written a kind of Civil Action story about the world’s biggest Indian casino. It’s the story of how lawyers, politicians, and activists turned a nearly defunct Indian reservation on a few hundred acres in Connecticut into the wealthiest and most powerful Indian tribe in the country. Along the way, serious questions of lineage and legal practice have emerged.

The success of the Pequot reservation’s Foxwoods Casino has turned a national spotlight on Indian tribal recognition and sovereignty. Most Indian reservations are by and large underdeveloped, but a significant minoriy have followed the Pequot model and built remarkable wealth over the last decade. And another 200 tribes nationwide are on the waiting list for federal recognition.

There is big money at stake, and the dysfunctional federal bureaucracy is breaking down under pressure. Jeff Benedict’s book “Without Reservation” has jump-started an idling issue. The question is: who’s an Indian, and what does America owe them?
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Jeff Benedict, and lawyer and Comanche Indian Dennis Chapabitty