I am currently editing my new book on tribal and reservation economic development. I argue in my book and elsewhere that improving economic conditions on reservations and for Indian families on and off reservations can go a long way to improving social, cultural, governmental, and family issues for American Indians.
A Montana newspaper reports that this same message was delivered by Margo Gray-Proctor, a citizen of the Osage Tribe and chairwoman of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, at the Indian Business Development Expo sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
She stated clearly that economic development and job creation are the keys to curing social ills on Indian reservations.
“In Indian Country, we’ve been doing it for thousands of years, bartering and trading freely,” she said. “If another tribe had squash and we had beans, we traded.”
She added that in today’s world, you want the money spent on goods and services to stay on the reservation, where it can help other businesses and keep more people employed.
Staggering unemployment rates on many reservations are why successful small businesses are so important, she said, and tribal governments must buy into the idea of increasing the number of reservation based small businesses.