Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts

Rosanna  Arcuri
The Importance of Circles in the Works of William Least Heat-Moon The Emergence of Casinos on American Indian Reservations
William  Least Heat-Moon
In his books, William Least Heat-Moon reflects on the journeys he has taken and what he has encountered. Blue Highways, his first book, is his account of circumnavigating the United States in his truck, while in his second book, PrairyErth, Least Heat-Moon examines Chase County, Kansas, step by step. He seeks to understand each place he visits thoroughly: the history, the people, the culture, and the environment. Similar to the beliefs of many Indian cultures, the importance of circles as a symbol of continuity is evident in the his journeys. While visiting new places and meeting new faces, Least Heat-Moon connects his Indian culture, nature, and his own life to circular paths and continuity.

In Least Heat-Moon’s novel, Blue Highways, he reflects on the relationship between American Indians and the Europeans during the Columbian Exchange. He writes, “The failure of the new people to give comparable respect to the Indians…would, more than any other cause, open a gulf between red men and white, a division not yet closed.”(65) Problems still exist between the American government and Indian tribes, such as the emergence of Indian-run casinos on reservations. While Indian tribes have been left with a destitute economy due to past relations involving the federal government, casinos have provided tribes with an excellent source of revenue to establish programs necessary to live a healthy and comfortable life. Without the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, which gave Indians special rights to operating casinos, Indian tribes would still be one of the poorest minorities in the country.

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