Lance Morgan, a citizen of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and the CEO of Ho-Chunk, inc., the Tribe’s development corporation, writes in Indian Country Today: “If you want to be involved in tribal economic development, it helps to be an optimist. . . . But lately what I have been witnessing as a tribal CEO, tribal lawyer and chairman of the Native American Contractors Association is enough to test my optimism . . . . Can you still join AIM?”
He’s upset because “so much of the political, legal and economic rules are slanted against tribes. From both a historical and recent perspective, the United States system is starting to look like an elaborate way to take what is ours and redistribute it amongst itself.”
. . . “A lot of people think the days of taking from Indian country are over, but they are not. Two recent laws passed by Congress send a clear reminder to tribes. The much hated PACT ACT basically was designed to kill the Seneca Nation’s economy by stopping the U.S. Post Office from mailing tobacco. Also, Congress added a devious provision called Section 811 to a defense appropriations bill last year that put a cap on tribal set-asides for government contracting. The cap originally was going to apply to all contractors, but after a closed door conference meeting between the House and Senate ended, it only applied to tribal contractors.
Both laws were lobbied for by competitors of the tribes. Big tobacco and the increasingly desperate state tax administrators lobbied for the PACT ACT. Large government contracting companies lobbied for Section 811 to limit the growth of tribal contracting. These changes will result in the tribes losing thousands of jobs.”
. . . “We didn’t lose these jobs in the economic environment. We lost these jobs in the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C. . . . As a result of the new laws, the jobs will in effect simply be transferred to our competitors. . . . How can you acknowledge our desperate need for economic growth, encourage us to invest millions of dollars in developing our businesses and then simply change the rules when we start being successful enough to bother a rich company? Maybe this wealth transfer system is just good politics for them, but it is certainly getting old from our perspective. . . .
The Obama Administration has done the easy things right. He has appointed Native Americans to key positions and boosted funding in some key social areas and we appreciate it. But it seems tribes are under full scale economic assault in Washington, D.C. We need someone to stop this seemingly endless cycle of people using the political and legal system of the United States as a method of taking from tribes. I am no expert politician but allow me to make a suggestion: We don’t need more jobless benefits, we need jobs. . . .”