This museum would not exist but for America’s compulsion for gambling, and the related billion dollar bounty provided by the ten million annual visitors to the world’s largest casino, Foxwoods, owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequots. It is a miracle that any of the Mashantucket Pequots survived to this day, after near annihilation in the 1637 Pequot War, enduring smallpox and other diseases from the Europeans, land theft, being sold into slavery, broken treaties, and being deprived of recognition that they even exist as a tribe. There is certainly some justice in their profiting from the weaknesses of their antagonists.
Herman Melville made reference to their decimation in Moby Dick (Chapter 16, The Ship), when Ishmael first comments on the name of Captain Ahab’s ship: “Pequod, you will no doubt remember, was the name of a celebrated tribe of Massachusetts Indians, now extinct as the ancient Medes.” Most people at the time, including Melville, thought the Pequots were gone.
In 1636, 10,000 to 15,000 Pequot lived along the estuaries of the Thames, Mystic, and Pawcatuck Rivers on the Connecticut coast. They controlled the fur trade (European men loved their beaver hats) because they controlled the rivers, and because they were proficient at making wampum, shell beads, the common currency of the time. By 1974, only 44 tribal members remained.
Adjacent to The Gathering Space is The Tower, a 210 foot high observation tower with an elevator and stairs. We took the elevator. Familiar low hills covered with dense green trees were punctuated by a sprawling blue-roofed casino complex, as unpretentious as a giant plastic pink flamingo.
In the Pequot Museum, a time line of galleries presents their long history on this land, and the disturbing effects of the European invasion on their way of life. The most unique and impressive exhibit in the museum was a full-size replica of a 17th century Pequot village, complete with realistic humans, animals, sound effects, water, and smoke.
The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that: Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right; greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms, greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge — has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed, you mark my words — will not only save Teldar Paper but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.