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2018-07-05 / Voices

Merging our Modern and Traditional Economy

A VIEW FROM LAKOTA COUNTRY
BY BRANDON ECOFFEY
OGLALA LAKOTA

Each year on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on powwow, rodeo, sun dance supplies, hotel rooms, and the basic-necessities travelers need.

Well there are no estimates for the revenue that is lost due to this capital leakage, it is obvious that most of these dollars are spent at WalMart and small businesses located in neighboring border towns. If our local economy featured businesses that could meet the needs and the demands of these shoppers, the people would benefit.

There is nothing wrong with trying to keep this money on the reservation. Instead of going straight in to the pockets of corporate America, money spent on supplies for these types of activities could circulate multiple times before leaving the reservation. Some of this money may even end up in our local banking institutions where it can be loaned out to others, some paid as salary to new employees, and a small amount would go back to tribal government in the form of taxes. Everybody wins.

These are the types of questions that our tribal-leaders should be asking themselves. Right now, tens of thousands of dollars are flooding out of our tribal office and being spent as quick fixes. Why can’t this money be invested into starting new businesses that would allow for more jobs. Employment would enable our families to pursue experiences on their own. They would not need to reach out to programs for help.

In the proposed constitutional reform, the executive board of our tribal government would be changed into a business council. The responsibility of this body would then be to promote the growth of the local economy. Instead of serving as an extra-layer of red-tape, those sitting on the business council would focus their energy on generating revenue and creating an environment that would be more conducive to growth.

This is a positive change that is part of the effort to reform the constitution of the Oglala Sioux tribe. I am hoping the reform passes. I am hoping that a shake-up like the one that has been proposed could lead to a change in the status-quo.

There has been steep opposition to the changes by those who benefited from the inefficiency of tribal-government. While I understand why some do not want change, I personally cannot see the benefit of allowing things to continue to function the way they have been for so long. The inefficiency and the negative impacts that the current constitution has had on our people, resources, and community must stop at some point.

I think if the reforms pass, it is a good thing. If they are defeated, the conversations we are all having about the state of our tribal-government are just as important.

*Brandon Ecoffey is the former editor of LCT and an award-winning journalist who was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He is also the owner of Bad Face Consulting and a cohost on the Bad Face Consulting Podcast presented by Native Hope.

Brandon Ecoffey is the former editor of LCT and an award-winning journalist who was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He is also the owner of Bad Face Consulting and a cohost on the Bad Face Consulting Podcast presented by Native Hope.

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