More cartoon comprehension

Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm:


What do you need to know to appreciate this cartoon? Three stereotypes, to start with: stereotyped Pilgrims, stereotyped (American) Indian (the label comes with the stereotype), stereotyped Thanksgiving food. Then you need to recognize the roulette wheel (and put “Place your bets” — “Faites vos jeux” — in its cultural context). And then you need to connect the pieces: to do that, you have to know about Native American gaming (in street language, Indian casinos). Except for the roulette bits, all of this is exquisitely American.

American children will understand the Thanksgiving, Pilgrim, and Indian parts, but the roulette stuff will probably mystify them. How much adults from outside the US will get depends on their experience of American popular culture, where the parts of the Thanksgiving story are amply depicted, and on their knowledge of (originally European) gambling practices (though these are now well represented in popular culture, as in Casino Royale), and then, crucially, on their knowing about Indian casinos.

Now on these last two ingredients.

Roulette. From Wikipedia:

(#2) Roulette wheel

Roulette is a casino game named after the French word meaning little wheel. In the game, players may choose to place bets on either a single number, various groupings of numbers, the colors red or black, whether the number is odd or even, or if the numbers are high (19–36) or low (1–18).

To determine the winning number and color, a croupier spins a wheel in one direction, then spins a ball in the opposite direction around a tilted circular track running around the circumference of the wheel. The ball eventually loses momentum, passes through an area of deflectors, and falls onto the wheel and into one of 37 (in French/European style roulette) or 38 (in American style roulette) colored and numbered pockets on the wheel.

Indian casinos. From Wikipedia:

Native American gaming comprises casinos, bingo halls, and other gambling operations on Indian reservations or other tribal land in the United States. Because these areas have tribal sovereignty, states have limited ability to forbid gambling there, as codified by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. As of 2011, there were 460 gambling operations run by 240 tribes, with a total annual revenue of $27 billion.

A map of Indian casinos (identified by name) in the San Francisco area, and east and north:


The unlabeled locations are non-Indian casinos. In particular, just south of San Francisco: Lucky Chances Casino, Colma; and Artichoke Joe’s Casino, San Bruno.

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