We live very close to the Tule River Indian Reservation. With the advent of their casino (small by most Indian casino standards) life for these Native Americans has been a change for the better. The reservation is tucked away in a narrow valley between huge mountains. The reservation has more acreage than any other California reservation. However, much of it is inaccessible and includes part of an old growth Sequoia forest.
The Indians now have their own health clinic, a modernized recovery center, day care, their own police force and fire department. Off the reservations they own and operate an air park at the Porterville airport where they do all kinds of air plane repair and other industry. They have plans for a hotel and a new casino in that area.
Something else they have done off the reservation is built a gas station and mini-mart which is state-of-the art–the nicest gas station and mini-mart I’ve ever seen. It’s built off the main highway to Springville, where I live. The gas is the cheapest you can find anywhere around. The place is well-lighted at night and there is always a Tule River tribal policeman on duty.
With this new establishment, they’ve also created a new place to meet people and see old friends. Obviously since the gas is cheaper, people make the extra drive to buy there. Sometimes you have to wait for an open gas pump. Because they also sell essentials along with Subway sandwiches and drinks, many customers venture inside.
It’s amazing how many old friends you bump into while pumping your gas. My husband manages to make new friends every time he takes one of our vehicles to fill up. You see people smiling and chatting everywhere. The last time I was there, I got a big hug from one of my son’s first girlfriends–when we knew her best she was a single mom with a three-year-old son, now she’s a grandma.
These are the Indians I borrow from in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. In my books they haven’t quite reached the enterprising spirit that they really have. It’s amazing to watch how they’ve not only provided new jobs for themselves, but also employment opportunities for non-Indians.
My latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery is Kindred Spirits available from the publisher, http://www.mundaniapress.com or any online bookstore. Though this book focuses more on the Tolowa people of Crescent City, other books in the series describe life on the fictional Bear Creek Reservation and the people who live there.