History often has a way with irony. As Phoenix rose from the ashes of its predecessor, cultures and nations have, over the ages, continued to emerge from devastation.
Last month the Prairie Band Casino and Resort north of Topeka donated large truckloads of supplies to 34 school districts in northeast Kansas, including Topeka USD 501, which includes the state capital. Repeated and dramatic cuts in state aid have left most of the state’s school districts perilously short on classroom supplies.
In early August, hundreds of area school patrons responded to a mailer from the Casino that asked for donations. Three weeks later the Casino had collected, among other items, about 36,000 pencils, 1,584 boxes of tissues, more than 6,300 dry erase markers and erasers, 668 reams of copy paper, and more than a quarter of a million sheets of loose leaf paper.
The Casino also kicked in, and began delivering the supplies to area districts late in August.
“All of my kids have been in the (Topeka) district, so I wanted to help with this,” said Roman Harjo, a casino employee who helped with deliveries.
The huge casino and resort, north of Topeka, was opened in 1998 by the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and, with 700 employees, uses revenue to repurchase national lands within reservation boundaries. The goal always was to generate money enough to compensate for inequities of the past and build upon it – even donating now to agencies of a government that had once been its oppressor.
It’s remarkable that the newly oppressed include schools, and that the economic healing once intended for Potawatomi children now includes a broader compass, more kinds of people who need help.
Aid from American Indians: A wonderful thing, and oh, how we can use it.
– JOHN MARSHALL