December 30, 2011

San Manuel buys sacred spring

An excellent example of how casinos let Indians restore and preserve their culture:

BIG BEAR: Tribe acquires sacred site

By David OlsonYears ago tribal members couldn’t even get to Big Bear to look from behind the fence at the spring they heard about in the creation story. The old cars they drove couldn’t make it up mountain roads, Ramos said. Buying the land was unthinkable until gaming money flowed in.

“This is part of spending money to purchase a part of our culture that, unlike gaming, will last forever,” Ramos said.

Ramos declined to reveal the price to buy the four acres that includes the hot spring.

Casino revenue is a key reason why San Manuel and other tribes have vibrant cultural-preservation programs, said Cliff Trafzer, a professor of history at UC Riverside and an expert on Southern California Indian culture.

“Gaming has contributed in a major way to the revitalization of tribal culture, and not just San Manuel culture,” Trafzer said.

In addition to land purchases, casino income gave the San Manuel and other tribes the resources to hire linguists and others to write down and teach languages that were in danger of dying, he said.

Tribes without casinos often are too poor to buy culturally significant land or launch extensive cultural-preservation programs, Trafzer said.
Comment:  For more uses of Indian gaming money, see Tribal Infomercials in Oklahoma and Pechanga to Sponsor LA Film Festival.

Below:  "San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Tribal Chairman James Ramos talks about the history behind the Pan Hot Springs which is sacred to the San Manuel tribe and was recently bought the property." (Mark Zaleski)

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