To the Editors,

Harold Henderson’s article (December 8) about the Pokagon Band and gambling operations on Native American reservations was excellent. I can’t help noticing a parallel between the situations of Native Americans in the present-day United States and of Jews in medieval Europe.

In many parts of medieval Europe, Jews were prevented from exercising most professions and from owning land. One of the few professions they were allowed to practice was money-lending. It was considered immoral for Christians to lend money at interest, but business and government needed loans in order to function. So Jews were hypocritically reviled and persecuted for practicing one of the few profitable trades left available to them.

In America, many Native Americans have been deprived of access to good land for traditional cultivation and hunting, and of educational opportunities. But as Henderson explained so well, they have been permitted by law to run gambling operations. The dominant American society regards gambling as socially dangerous and possibly immoral, but also likes to gamble. So now we hypocritically revile and envy the Native Americans for practicing one of the few profitable trades that we have left available to them.

Many states run their own gambling operations–lotteries–that take a lot of money from the less wealthy classes, and our national government permits the wealthier classes to operate their own gambling operations–stock, bond, and options markets. I believe that gambling causes a lot of problems, but there is absolutely no excuse for blaming Native Americans for the hypocrisy and addictions of the rest of us.


A. Christopher Wilson

West Rogers Park