“Deftly documented. . . . [Fromson] knows something about digging into the roots of a good story. . . . [Hitting the Jackpot] is a story that leaves you shaking your head, sometimes in amazement, sometimes in chagrin.” John P. Mello Jr., The Boston Globe
Hitting the Jackpot
The Inside Story of the Richest Indian Tribe in History
978-0-8021-4171-2 • $14.00 • Paperback • Sep. 2004
A bracing work of investigative journalism into the lucrative world of Indian casino gaming, the wheelings and dealings behind America's most controversial Indian tribe, and the highest-grossing casino in the world
From Connecticut and Maine to California, the explosion of Indian tribes with massive gambling operations has prompted a fierce nationwide debate. Hitting the Jackpot reveals the true story of how the Mashantucket Pequots of Connecticut became the richest Indian tribe in history.
In 1635, the first Puritans migrated from Massachusetts Bay to the colony of Connecticut. By 1637, Puritan settlers in Connecticut were at war with the Pequot Indian tribe. In retaliation for a Pequot raid, Captain John Mason led an assembled militia of English and Indian allies in a predawn attack on a Pequot fort that left over four hundred Pequots dead. Within two years, the Pequot tribe was all but extinguished, and it would remain that way for the next 350 years.
In 1973, the last remaining descendant of the Pequots to live on the tribal reservation, Elizabeth George Plouffe, passed away, but not before imparting advice to her grandson Richard "Skip" Haywood: "Hold on to the land." These words would instigate a thirty-year legal and political drama that would lead Hayward and his relatives to re-create the Pequot tribe and become the richest Indians in history. How it happened is the subject of Brett Duval Fromson's Hitting the Jackpot.
The culmination of a three-year investigation, Fromson's book uncovers a labyrinthine tale of legal maneuverings, back-room political dealings, and ethnic reinvention. Fromson details the step-by-step process by which today's Pequots gained tribal recognition, hired top lawyers to claim thousands of acres of land, exploited a state law meant for church yard sales to gain the right to open Foxwoods, now a $1.2 billion-a-year operation, and distilled the barest traces of Pequot lineage into a full-fledged tribe with over six hundred tribal members, a yearly powwow that offers the biggest cash prizes in America, and a $250 million museum, one of the costliest in American history.
As controversy over Indian casino gambling sweeps across the United States, Hitting the Jackpot reveals the true story of how the Mashantucket Pequots of Connecticut became the richest Indian tribe in history.