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Summons Natives North American Control Their Tribal Economies Vision for Change

Summons Natives North American Control Their Tribal Economies - Vision for Change
Terrance H. Booth, Sr. - Neesh wil gum – Tsimshian Nation

This writer’s late father once said, “Tribal economic development in reality would be a re-discovery of who we are as tribal people." (Quote Ira C. Booth, Tsimshian Tribal Historian, Tsimshian Nation) He then spoke of the trade route of the Tsimshian Nation covering a wide route going to the ice edge of the Arctic Circle down the Pacific Coast where they trade and bartered for goods. The Makah Tribe (Neah Bay, Washington), Olympic Peninsula just south of Vancouver Island, know of the Tsimshian people for the traded and bartered with the Makah people and the Tsimshian were either going south or going back north after their trade expedition. During the expansion of British Columbia the Tsimshian were right in the middle of commerce of the region.

During the time British Columbia was expanding and growing the Tsimshian Nation was right in the middle of commerce of northern British Columbia. Chief Legaic (Ligeex) is considered to be traditionally the most powerful Tsimshian chieftainship. In the period of early European contact, Legaic controlled Tsimshian trade with peoples up the Skeena River, a privilege he protected through tribute and through war if necessary. His position was eventually weakened as the Hudson's Bay Company rose in influence through the fur trade in the nineteenth century. [1] It has been said he amassed such wealth that he himself had nine monopolies over the region and Tsimshian were the labor force for all the canneries of northern British Columbia upon his negotiations he set the wage scale for the entire region of the Tsimshian Nation.

In the USA across Indian Country the “War on Poverty,” is now 50 years in the making and across America one sees many homeless in the major cities of this so called wealthy nation. The policies generated by the governments of America and Canada have an hostile impact upon North America’s Indigenous Peoples and other poor of each of the countries of America and Canada. The Natives of North America have readily noted the intense offensive budgetary decisions made have tribes having to cut back their programs with great reductions of their Native programs placing burdensome decisions to release exceptional staff from tribal administration, cultural programs, and tribal education and disallowing brilliant teachers with the inability to gain teacher tenure because of the budget by Republican Sequestration. Poverty has not been eliminated to North America’s Indigenous population and Sequestration had disgracefully impacted the Alaska Native and Native American Tribes far deeper and harder than the Blacks and Hispanic population.

So in Canada and USA both governments have aggressive legislation toward the Indigenous of North America even the treaty rights have been weaken by both governments and seemingly we are like a disappearing race with no sound from the major press and media. However, the people of color seem to only include Blacks and Hispanics with both of them relatively new to North America. Note the interviews when talking about poverty the Indigenous of North America are not even interviewed. Since the governments of Canada and USA are very insensitive to the social and economic needs on the Indigenous of North America it is time for us to pave our own way to wealth and prosperity.

Since governments of Canada and USA are failing the Indigenous Peoples; it is time we Native People join forces and see how we can built a tribal economies utilizing our own wisdom, tribal strengths, tribal knowledge and academia join forces with North America’s Indigenous seeking out by regions how to prosper each tribal regions of North America.

Let’s look at ourselves and start with our own Native buying power. Native Americans’ buying power has increased from $19.6 billion in 1990 to $87.3 billion in 2010, and is projected to climb to $147.7 billion in 2017. [2]
The percentage change in Native Americans’ buying power between 1990 and 2017 is 653.6%, higher than the percentage change for most other racial/ethnic groups. [3]
Native Americans’ share of the consumer market was 0.8% in 2010. [4]

Several Native American companies have fully realized the purchasing power of Natives and now are listed in the Fortune 500 companies of America. Our Canadian relatives have gone on two trade mission coming back with successes and ventured out to receiving investments for their tribal projects, joint ventures or partnerships. Along with the success of our First Nations and Chinese companies last year one Chinese company had a Round Table Discussion with agenda of introduction, how they can work together, listing of products that can be purchased by China from First Nations. Also on agenda was discussion of further steps to be taken to create international trade and the development of economic opportunities in trading with China.

What we have in Indian Country, USA is Gaming by several Tribes. It’s good that they give generously to their surround communities it’s time for them to give consideration to a national Native permanent fund specifically to address tribal economies and readily reduce poverty from our midst. Further under tribal Self Governance take over the Trust Fund that has been mismanaged by the US Federal Government.

“In early December 2009, the government offered and the plaintiffs accepted a settlement in this 13-year-old case. The settlement provides $1.4 billion to be shared among the plaintiffs (yielding just $1000 per plaintiff). The federal government commits another $2 billion to buy up small shares of scattered properties from their current owners. The settlement includes the creation of a "$60 million federal Indian Education Scholarship fund to improve access to higher education for Indian youth, and ... a commitment by the federal government to appoint a commission that will oversee and monitor specific improvements in the Department’s accounting for and management of individual Indian trust accounts and trust assets, going forward.” [5] Since the federal government has mishandled our Trust Fund it is time to start our own funding to advance and do nation building for the future of all Indigenous of North America.

Tribes can establish a Nationwide Permanent Fund and set aside gaming earnings to grow and invest funding too specifically target poverty, improve education, establishment of more Tribal Colleges to address professional development, develop curriculum that targets social and economic needs of Indian Reservations settings, establishment of Regional Tribal Business Incubators targets keeping dollars on the Indian Reservation Settings, establishment of Indian Reservation Native Businesses to keep dollar spending on Tribal Reservations and in-depth tribal economic analyzes to see what other Native Businesses can be placed on Tribal Lands to stop all the economic leakages of any Tribal Reservation. Structured for profitability and unification of all tribes to become self-sufficient and self-sustaining building Native Nations economies for the here and now and into the future establish life-long progress to richness instead of keeping with the tribal destitution and status quo. Economic leakage means dollars spent with non-Native Companies the dollars leave reservation setting rather than stay within a reservation setting. Tribes to gain a realistic picture of their tribal economies can commission an exclusive economic study and receive an in-depth analysis of where do the dollars go that are earned on the reservation setting it will readily reveal that tribal revenues are spent off reservations only benefitting their neighbors instead of benefitting themselves as Tribes. Let us begin to instigate and form a nation-wide tribal initiative to bring our tribes out of poverty and build nation-wide tribally oriented economies in this generation.

Yes Indian Country has casinos but you see non-Native delivery trucks with goods and supplies meaning a non-Native companies benefits from the operations of Native Casinos. All the restaurants within a Native Casinos purchase fresh produce, vegetables, cooking supplies, kitchen equipment, cook ware, cooking oil and cooking spices from non-Native companies. This means the purchasing dollars of Native restaurants go off the reservation settings prospering non-Native companies instead of prospering Native Companies. Same with the technology of a Native Casino purchasing technical services to repair and service electronic parts is again spent and again prospers non-Native Companies. Other supplies to operate Native Casinos most of the purchasing goes to non-Native companies. If Native Casinos goes with Buy Native Policies and buying local from Native Companies one will readily see a greatly improved tribal economies that will create more profitability and generate more revenue and most of all have increased jobs for the tribal casinos. With jobs in all areas of tribal casino the tribes should strive toward 100% tribal member employment for several non-Natives are the workers and here again with 100% tribal employment one will note the start of eliminating poverty from Indian Country. Here again Tribes can create training of qualified staffing of the Native Casinos and even for their own tribal entities for professional development.

Our own tribal resources it is noted that our tribal resources for production are leased out and non-Native companies benefitting from our natural resources. If you visit some grocery stores their ethnic food section you do not see any Native American food products. Metlakatla, Alaska once had a salmon canning factory. Going to a local grocery store 7.5 ounce can of pink salmon pricing was $4.48 and canned Sockeye salmon was $9.99 maybe once again Metlakatla should consider going into canned salmon business with Native Labeling. At Costco last summer Sockeye fillet was $28.00. This writer has gone on trade mission to Hong Kong and Tokyo and still gets emails from potential customers which are referred to other Native Companies. Grocery Stores have a minority diversification program whereby Native American Food Companies can submit applications to become a minority vender and place their food products on the shelves of grocery stores. After all, we have several Alaska Native and Native American peoples in the major cities of the USA who are hungry for Native Foods. Better yet start an exclusive Alaska Native and Native American Grocery Stores supplying them with their foods and placing the stores both on and off the reservation settings depending on the Native urban population of the cities.

Tribes many are in strategic locations like Gila River Indian Community and Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community their surrounding communities buffer up right to their boundaries. Both Native Reservations have taken advantage of the nearness of their surrounding communities by placing on tribal lands commercial or industrial parks for development and have created tribal friendly business environments and benefits are the enticing tax incentives.

Freight is an important part of the transportation sector, and the transportation sector is in itself a major component of our economy. The transportation sector moves goods and people, employs millions of workers, generates revenue, and consumes materials and services produced by other sectors of the economy. The wide range of transportation services used in the economy includes for-hire freight carriers, private transportation providers, freight forwarders, logistics providers, and firms that service and maintain vehicles. [6]
Transportation also contributes to the economy by providing millions of jobs. It allows men and women to earn their living by manufacturing vehicles and by driving, maintaining, and regulating them to allow for the safe and efficient movement of goods and people. One out of every seven jobs in the United States is transportation related. Transportation jobs in transportation industries as well as in non-transportation industries employed nearly 20 million people in 2002, accounting for 16 percent of U.S. total occupational employment (see table). For example, the for-hire transportation sector employed over 4.4 million workers in 2002. More than 60 percent of these for-hire workers are either in freight-related occupations or in jobs that directly support freight transportation. [7]

Shipping in Alaska is costly and each seafood company desires to get their seafood product at lowered costs. There are over 60 seafood processors in Southeast Alaska from small mom and pop to medium and to large processors. “A successful freight consolidation structure will depend on several factors:
• Participation by fishermen and processors and the assurance of an even
playing field for all participants,
• Airline willingness to regularly schedule cargo flights and the ability to
obtain return cargo hauls,
• Successful marketing campaign(s) that differentiates fresh Southeast Alaska
seafood and increases market demand,
• Assurances of quality product,
• Minimal cost for the freight consolidation effort.
Southeast processors currently airfreight 14.5 million pounds of fresh seafood out of the region. Alaska Airlines provides much of the air transportation required for this product as cargo on passenger planes and through specially chartered aircraft.
Processors indicate that 18.4 million pounds of fresh product could be shipped now, 152 additional flights annually, if regular air cargo service were available [8]

Much of Alaska Airlines’ cargo operation supports moving goods between the state of Alaska and the Lower 48. Southbound, much of the product is fresh Alaska seafood. The airline transports more than 30 million pounds of fresh Alaska seafood each year from fishing towns throughout Alaska to markets and restaurants across the country. Northbound, Alaska transports a range of products, including U.S. Postal Service mail, essential supplies for remote Alaska communities and personal packages. Alaska operates both all-cargo and combined (part cargo/part passenger) aircraft on these routes. [9]

Metlakatla, Alaska has a dormant airport that can service all of Southeast Alaska Seafood processors. Metlakatla can develop having air cargo distribution center for all of Southeast Alaska and get seafood delivery out to the seafood markets more quickly then what now exists. Noting comments made above air cargo can definably be a money maker for Metlakatla.

Metlakatla can develop an international harbor for handling freight for Southeast Alaska with both the airport and harbor being designated as international harbor and airport, both designated Foreign and Free Trade Zone. Under USDA Enterprise Community Metlakatla already have enticing tax incentives for establishment of businesses working with the community.

Conclusion for Southeast Alaska especially for the three Tribes, including Haida, Tlingit and Tsimshian all three combine forces establishing cultural tourism since tourism is a growing business especially for Southeast Alaska. We note that Sealaska Heritage Institute brings an economic impact to our State Capitol Juneau. In Anchorage we note the impact culturally the Alaska Native Heritage Center has for Alaska Natives especially during tourism season and in off season is a cultural heritage learning center. Southeast Alaska can capitalize on inter-tribal cultural tourism for tourism is a $530 Million Dollar industry and 35% of the visitors coming to Alaska visit Southeast Alaska.

Ketchikan receives daily from May to September 39,000 plus visitors and the neighboring tribes around Ketchikan can greatly benefit simply being themselves as Native Artists, Native Dancers, Native Storytellers, Native Painters and Native Carvers. Among why visitors come to Southeast Alaska is to experience the cultures of Southeast Alaska and the Haida, Tlingit and Tsimshian are best to do just that with cultural pavilions in Metlakatla, more Native art outlets in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka for Haida, Tlingit and Tsimshian Artists. Native Pavilions be established in Metlakatla, Ketchikan, Sitka, and Juneau and give consideration to other Alaska Native Communities depending upon the visitor traffic. The Village Corporations and Sealaska Corporation will find investing in themselves will not only benefit their shareholders but bring more visitors to Southeast Alaska Native communities just capitalizing on being their selves will readily bring profitability to Southeast Alaska Native Corporations and bring wealth to their communities just promoting our Haida, Tlingit and Tsimshian Cultures.

2. Notes from Catalyst, Article Buying Power, People of Color Buying Power, March 6, 2013
3. Ibid
4. Ibid
7. Ibid

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