Peqouts’ Revenge

By Jackson Henry —-

Palaucan learn a lesson or two about courage and nation building from the Pequots, an American Indian tribe nearly exterminated by war, poverty and out migration. Today, the Pequots are not only a proud and a wealthy tribe but, one of the biggest tax payers and employer in the US state of Connecticut. Their businesses include the Great Cedar Hotel, Spa at Norwich, MGM Grand and Foxwood Resort. Their tribal pride is embodied in their new Mashantucket Pequot Museum, which show cases their culture and serves as a symbolic edifice of their rise from adversity to great fortunes.

But who are the Pequots ? History indicates that the Pequots are one of the band of native Americans tribes who lived for 10,000 years on the present dayLong Island,New York. It was not until the arrival of the Dutch settlers in 1632 when the Pequots were “discovered”. Soon relations with the Dutch fell apart with the killing of their Chief named Wopigwooit. In 1636, the Pequots killed a notorious settler named John Oldham and soon the militia avenged his death with the burning of the Pequots’ village. The Pequots responded with killing of 9 settlers and taking of two female captives. One settler was disemboweled and hung on a tree. In 1637, theConnecticutsettlers declared war on the Pequots. The settlers were furious and wanted to exterminate the Pequots from the face of the earth because of their brutality. The Militia attacked the Pequots’ fort in Mystic, burning 700 warriors and killing many women and children. The last Pequots were chased into a swamp where they were slaughtered like animals. Of the original 8,000 Pequots, only 180 women and children came out of the trees to surrender and the war was over. These Pequots were sent into slavery with the Mohegan and Narrangansetts tribes. The Pequot tribe, whose name means, “destroyer”, was essentially exterminated.

In 1774, only 151 Pequots lived in Mashantucket. By 1800, 40 of them moved out of the tribe to seek work. In 1856, illegal land sale had reduced the Pequot reservation from 989 acres to just 213 acres. By 1970, only one Pequot woman was left. She pleaded with her grandson, Skip Hayward, to return to the reservation to save it. US Federal laws has it that if any Indian reservations becomes vacant, the land is automatically taken over by the Department of Interior.

Skip Hayward, then an unemployed ship worker, decided to grant her grandmother’s dying wish, revive the moribund people back to their past glory. He embarked on series of financial ventures and legal actions to retrieve their illegally seized tribal lands back. All the ventures failed until 1986 when Hayward won a landmark Supreme Court case declaring Indian tribes as sovereign nations. By 1992,Hayward opened Foxwood Resort, which became the most profitable gaming operations in theUS, grossing over $2 billion annually. Foxwood also became the largest tax payer and employer inConnecticut. Previously, General Dynamics, a nuclear sub-marine builder, was the largest employer.

Today, the Pequot tribe is a thriving community, a sovereign nation, a wealthy people with the most respected Indian tribal council in the US. They have repurchased their “stolen” lands back and increased the size of their tribal properties to 1,250 acres. Skip Hayward, a one man-Army, proved that building a nation can be done with the efforts of single man, if one has the courage and passion to make it. Many economies of Indian reservations in Americatoday has been uplifted from poverty due partly to Mr. Hayward’s efforts in legalizing tribal gaming. From a tribe that was nearly exterminated, the Pequots have recaptured their past glory and now stand as a shining example that nation building can be achieved if one fights hard enough for it.Haywardalso proved that the sweetest revenge against your adversaries is not in war but, in meteoric rise to fortunes and success.

In this election, Palauans should remember the courageous ones who are brave enough to make a difference in our efforts to build our economy.

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