Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Affairs and Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Peter Kobrak

Second Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Reding

Third Advisor

Dr. Thomas VanValey


The economic, social and cultural effect of tribal gaming on a Michigan Indian tribe is the focus of this study. Twelve individuals, identified as knowledgeable informants, were interviewed on how the tribal community has been impacted by the successful gaming operations and whether the nature of the gaming enterprises was an important factor.

During the interview process, the members of the community defined the changes in their lives resulting from the large amount of income that was benefiting this previously impoverished community. The participants were asked to describe, in their own words, important changes that had occurred in their personal, family, community and cultural lives. Individuals described their attitudes toward the gaming operations, per capita payments, community programs and social problems that were created with the coming of the casinos.

While the focus of this study was on the effect of gambling as an economic development tool, to the majority of those interviewed the source of the money was not a major factor. Rather the amount of the money, the ensuing rapid pace of economic change and social conflict were the defining events. The tribe’s economic status and infrastructure have radically improved but at the cost of a loss of community cohesiveness. A striking theme that emerged from the interviews was the countervailing trends of rediscovery and strengthening of traditional Native American culture and the new found material wealth being experienced by the tribe which is creating an Indian middle class.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access