Sunday, February 1, 2009

Desert Diamond Diversity

From the outside appearance, the Desert Diamond Casino at 1100 W. Pima Mine Road looks like a plastic pastel Aztec foundation, commercializing the culture and history of the Tohono O'odham Nation to everyone passing by. Due to the outside appearance, I expected the inside of the casino would convey the same message, showcasing Mexican and tribal heritage, educating the average gambler as they try to fatten their wallets. To my surprise, it seems no one wants a cultural history lesson here, as the gamblers mindlessly shove quarters and dollar bills into a powerhouse of American popular culture, including "Wheel of Fortune," "Starwars," and "eBay" themed slot machines.

So what's the deal? Where's the pride? Have we all just abandoned our heritage for the all mighty buck? Maybe the Desert Diamond Casino has a different reason. Perhaps, no lesson in culture or history is given, because everyone already knows it.

"It seems to me that the majority of players are Mexican," said Debra Johnson, the casino's head manager on duty.

However, the culture isn't advertised through the fluorescent advertisement of their restaurants, bars or venues. Instead, the effort to maintain cultural elements in the casino can be seen through Saturday night mariachi music, and Mexican food served all day on Thursdays. The casino's cliental also showcase their own examples of the surrounding diversity by wearing cowboy hats, and bolo-ties. 
"A lot of people from Nogales come to play," said Andrea Enciso, a waitress at the casino's buffet.

As an employee at the casino it is encouraged to be bilingual, and conversing in Spanish is a significant component of each workday, said Enciso. "In one shift I'll get fifteen Spanish speaking tables," said Enciso.

All game play is operated in English, and the casino does not especially cater to Spanish speaking individuals, but when a player does not speak English then a bilingual employee will be recruited to assist the player in Spanish, said Johnson.

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