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Relevant issues for this story, separated by commas (eg. war, race, gender):
Poverty
Geographical region for this story (eg. Africa, Middle East, Southeast Asia):
North America
Relevant key words for this story, separated by commas (eg. Africa, Hurricane Katrina, Mother Teresa):
Gambling, USA, South Dakota, Poverty, Native American
A short summary for this story that will go on the stories page (1-2 sentences):
After centuries of living off the richness of the land, much of the state’s reservation population exists in the poverty normally endured by third world peoples. This project documents the problems that gambling creates in South Dakota’s casino communities.
Greg Latza

1993 — student award of excellence

South Dakota’s Indian reservations are the poorest in the United States. After centuries of living off the richness of the land, much of the state’s reservation population exists in the poverty normally endured by third world peoples. These Indians have been herded onto parcels of prairie that are fractions of the domains they once roamed. Now unable to live off the land, the must turn to other ways of making a living. One way is from casino revenues.

Casino gambling is allowed on South Dakota’s reservations. The respective reservations’ tribes manage the casinos, and the revenues are mostly absorbed by the people of the reservation. But there is something wrong.

As a whole, the reservations still suffer, but with an added problem. Now there are Indians with gambling addictions. Money needed to buy food is shoved into a video lottery machine or wasted on a card game.

I plan to document the problems that gambling creates in South Dakota’s casino communities. People need to be aware of yet another battle being fought by America’s native people.

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An alcohol-related car accident claimed Butch Taylor's right leg. Today he's struggling for the same casino payments that provoked the accident. Greg Latza/Alexia Foundation
Butch is tired of waiting for casino payments to resume. Greg Latza/Alexia Foundation
Butch tackles the ramp leading into his house. His "workshop" is located in his kitchen. Greg Latza/Alexia Foundation
Being in a wheelchair doesn't stop Butch from cleaning the kitchen after a day of pipecarving. Nearly everything in the room is covered with pipestone dust. Greg Latza/Alexia Foundation
A lead-inlaid pipe and several smaller pipe heads wait to be sold as Butch calmly waits for a Sioux Falls buyer to arrive. Greg Latza/Alexia Foundation
Butch watches the buyer dole out cash for his pipe. This is the only money that Butch makes since the casino payments have ended. Greg Latza/Alexia Foundation
Clutching his latest profit, Butch tells the buyer when he'll be ready to sell again. Greg Latza/Alexia Foundation
As Butch talks on the phone, a visitor discusses the newest happenings with others in the room. Greg Latza/Alexia Foundation
Butch cheers at a slot machine in Flandreau's Royal River Casino. He gambles for fun while many others are deadly serious about their games. Greg Latza/Alexia Foundation
Many people stop to talk with the group, but here they experience a moment of solitude in a casino full of people. Greg Latza/Alexia Foundation