Wednesday, September 30, 2015

On the Rez: Grooves, Gambling, and Grass

There’s a very interesting story out of South Dakota. It seems that Federal law permitting marijuana in some states now permits it on Indian reservations, so:
The Santee Sioux tribe has already proven its business acumen, running a successful casino, a 120-room hotel and a 240-head buffalo ranch on the plains of South Dakota.

But those enterprises have not been immune to competition and the lingering effects of the Great Recession, so the small tribe of 400 is undertaking a new venture — opening the nation's first marijuana resort on its reservation. The experiment could offer a new money-making model for tribes nationwide seeking economic opportunities beyond casinos.

Santee Sioux leaders plan to grow their own pot and sell it in a smoking lounge that includes a nightclub, arcade games, bar and food service, and eventually, slot machines and an outdoor music venue.
Intriguing, very intriguing. Gambling, music, and grass all in one place. What if other tribes get into this? Will reservations become prime vacation spots for other Americans?

On the one hand we have the settlement of the Americas by Europeans and the concomitant decimation of the native population. At the same time those Europeans brought in and enslaved Africans to provide labor. In 20th century America descendants of those enslaved Africans became prominent and visible in society as entertainers, music, dance, and sports.

At the same time the descendants of the original inhabitants were confined to reservations, but those reservations have a legal status that is different from that of ‘ordinary’ territory. And that difference allowed casino gambling, which many tribes have gotten into. Now we have marijuana added into the mix. It’s like the tribes can exploit their special legal status to create a nationwide network of adult playgrounds. And somehow this mixes in with the remnants of “noble savage” mythology to add a “back to the land” and a “spiritual” vibe to these spots. And that’s both phony and real at the same time.

Very interesting. We’ve got Las Vegas, Disneyland and Disneyworld, and now the Tribal World of Gambling, Grass, and Grooves.

Where’s the world headed?

* * * * *

The idea of vacation is relatively new. Citing an NPR program (The History Of The Vacation Examined on All Things Considered), here’s what the Wikipedia says about vacation:
The concept of taking a vacation is a recent invention, and has developed through the last two centuries. Historically, the idea of travel for recreation was a luxury that only wealthy people could afford (see Grand Tour). In the Puritan culture of early America, taking a break from work for reasons other than weekly observance of the Sabbath was frowned upon. However, the modern concept of vacation was led by a later religious movement encouraging spiritual retreat and recreation. The notion of breaking from work periodically took root among the middle and working class.
Note that the idea of vacation seems to have originated in religious practice. It’s good for the soul to get away from work and think about other things, higher things.

And it turns out that it’s good for work too. In 2012 The Atlantic ran an article extoling the value of vacation time:
Just as small breaks improve concentration, long breaks replenish job performance. Vacation deprivation increases mistakes and resentment at co-workers, Businessweek reported in 2007. "The impact that taking a vacation has on one's mental health is profound," said Francine Lederer, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles specializing told ABC News. "Most people have better life perspective and are more motivated to achieve their goals after a vacation, even if it is a 24-hour time-out."
It’s all about managing the mind, creating spaces where we can use our minds in different ways. That’s where I think we’re headed, toward more explicit recognition of the need to regulate our minds and creating techniques to do so.

The idea that there are special places where we go to do that sort of thing is, of course, now well established. Certain towns and even countries are known as tourist destinations. We’ve got spas and resorts. And we’ve also got places for spiritual retreat. The Tribal World of Gambling, Grass, and Grooves is another aspect of this same phenomenon.

And as more or more routine work is handed off to machines, robots, and computers, the work remaining for humans will necessarily be more creative. How will that affect this emerging ecology?

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