Interestingly, Native American business has been portrayed in movies and television over the recent years. Though not delivered in depth as say a movie like Wall Street and the numbers few, the number of occurrences is definitely rising. These business portrayals extend beyond the old Westerns. Though not always in the most positive light, the Native businesses being represented include the success of tribal gaming.
Americathon was a film from late the 1970′s set into the farcical future of the late 1990′s. The idea is that America is in broke and in debt to Native Americans who could possibly repossess America. So, the President, played by John Ritter, decides to hold a telethon to raise money to pay the debt. The Native business holding the debt was Nike, which is now a massive corporation owned by American Indians. Again this was highly fanciful, comedic film.
Joe Dirt was another comedic film where the lead character comes across a Native fireworks stand helmed by a character named Kicking Wing, played by Adam Beach. Upon meeting Joe Dirt Kicking Wing only sells snakes and sparklers but is convinced by Dirt that he needs to sell what people want. Dirt runs down a list of his favorite fireworks.
In the television show The Soprano’s episodes Christopher and Eloise a tribal casino plays a significant setting. The Christopher episode concerns itself with Christopher Columbus Day and the tension between Native Americans and Italian-Americans concerning the holiday. Eloise has the casino and the tribal chief’s helicopter in a signature moment as the character Furio nearly kills the show’s principal character Tony Soprano with the helicopter blades.
Walking Tall was remade with wrestling star The Rock as the lead character. The antagonist uses a tribal casino to run the community that is wrought with corruption including the sheriff’s department. It is mentioned that the antagonist came to run the casino with probably fraudulent Native American ties.
Using a Native American business as a story device in television and movies will only grow as Native success in business grows. Undoubtedly, tribal casinos will be a major platform as they lend themselves to dramatic possibilities more than other business endeavors. However, that is not to say that other forms of Native American business can appear on screens in the future.