The broken spirit of the Manitou
By Jane Hoffman
In Anishinaabemowin, the language of the Ojibwe/Anishinaabe people, there is no word for “goodbye.” The Ojibwe/Anishinaabe view life and all relationships therein (inanimate and animate worlds) as being interrelated forming a circle—once something or someone enters our life circle they continue to exert an influence throughout the remainder of our lives even if we do not encounter or see that thing or person again in any direct way. Accordingly, as an expression of this life view, the Ojibwe/Anishinaabe do not say goodbye when we part ways with one another, but rather, we say Giga-wabamin Menawah—“see you again.”
My time at Fonduluth casino as a black jack player was short lived. Intensity brought on competitiveness and competitiveness brought on short sighted judgment. The outcome could not always be determined because gambling is unpredictable. As soon as the player feels their intuition is serving them, the quicker things can change and cause self deception. One of these changes is heckling by the dealers. They try to play mind games with the players, forcing them to examine their reasons for being there or remaining through many losing shoes.
My biggest regret besides getting in too deep was that management could not perceive me in my best light. There were dealers who I got along with quite well and others who were only there to punish me. I know the difference of loyalty. I was loyal to the Ojibwe when I wrote an award winning play about them and it appeared on cable. The play was “Father, Save Your Skin” and it appeared in Los Angeles on Continental Cablevision in 1990-91 and the cable show “Playhouse 1990’s.” As a gambler, I could not determine the overall perspective of a tribe I honored getting into the European money game. Money divides people. Many black jack dealers at Fonduluth do not know their place. They are either agitated by their commitment (combined with their own self compromise for staying too long) to be there or by the number of repetitive players who live for one moment of glory and end up squandering their life away. All relationships at the four standing black jack tables are complicated. Some pit bosses show favoritism to long term players while feel threatened by others. It’s not the circle of life the tribal roots of the Ojibwe intend to perceive. The money game causes many to be trapped to measure existence over time. It’s a long term fight in a short term battle. No one at the casino ultimately wins. Not even the long term employees who somehow make it their own judgment call on what their perceived role is.
I wrote a previous article on Fonduluth that angered some. I am revisiting the script to size up my dimensions. The casino is a fun get away for some. For those who have created a habit of depletive bankrolling or supplementary financing, it is dark, fabled game. One is safer at the slots where its man vs. machine even if the outcome is predictable. The Black jack table is full of give and take in which the dealers try to read you as a player and you can be caught in their web. People get offended by individual examples so I will only share one. There is a former Mormon dealer who has been dealing around 22 years. He tries to guilt players about the engaging in the game. The staff is part of that game. The warning signals about a fallen world of Genesis and the biblical leader Paul are prophetic messages that somehow get projected into the casino.
When entering Fonduluth, enter with caution. The management can target some players while others slip from the radar. One’s soul is on the line, even if one cannot feel the consequences. Your actions will be challenged by those who assume they are wiser than you. In a place where one wants to escape, nobody wants to fall under that intense scrutiny. Your destiny is to leave. You must decide when. Cha ching. Game over.