Well Economic Justice Happen for North America’s Indigenous People?
By Terrance H. Booth, Sr. – Nishwilgun (Keeper of the Gun Power) Tsimshian
In America under 44 presidents’ economic and social justice and equality has not ever happen for the Alaska Native and Native American Peoples. The late Vine Deloria, Jr. writes: “When we come to see federal historical setting, we are led to some rather unsettling conclusions. Within perspective of Indian-white conflict there is no question that the major thrust has been one of dispossession of the natives by those colonizing the continent. The first response in formulating a policy of the United States was the naïve belief that moving natives westward toward the uninhabitable regions would be sufficient to resolve the question of primacy in political and economic affairs. Within this setting, however, some care was taken to protect the legal identity and cultural integrity of the tribes. True, missionaries also did yeoman work in the translation of the Bible and some political documents of the United States into the native languages, and missionaries, most prominently Samuel Worcester, went to prison in an effort to help the tribes protect their national status.”  Today Republicans are still targeting Alaska Native and Native American Programs more than any other minority and Indian Country, USA; for they have been the hardest hit by Republican Sequestration and, again, the federal government has failed and not ever has poverty been eliminated from America’s Indian People. Current GOP are not listening to those that have elected them but listening to those who made their campaign possible with campaign contributions. “It’s time for Congress to answer this moral and legal call to action so that AI/AN peoples can finally look forward to prosperity and progress for future generations, rather than some of the worst and most chronic rates of poverty, health, and education.”  The Indigenous Peoples of North America have more with stood many tests with oppression, outright hate, termination policies even today such policies dim the path to being prosperous, handling their own affairs specifically coming from the brilliant minds of our Native Peoples. Some tribes have done it on their own drawing their tribal people out of poverty. One success that can be replicated across Indian Country and for Corporate America to take note is; The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians who when from being in poverty and now the third largest employer in that state. The beginning of the 20th century found Mississippi Choctaws struggling to overcome poverty, discrimination, and lack of opportunity. In 1918, the Bureau of Indian Affairs opened an office in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Over the next decade, the agency established elementary schools in the Choctaw communities and built a hospital in Philadelphia for tribal members. In 1945, the tribe received federal recognition, and a tribal government was reestablished. Over the next 55 years, the tribal government regained control of Choctaw schools, health care facilities, legal and judicial systems, and social service programs, setting the stage for a period of economic growth unparalleled in tribal history. The completion of an 80-acre industrial park in 1979 was the first step in the development of a diversified industrial economy for Mississippi Choctaws. Twenty-one years later, the tribe operates a dozen business and industrial enterprises and is among the five largest employers in the state of Mississippi.  Successful Native Non-profit is Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians that has partnered up with Salish Kootenai College that accredits their conference training session on tribal economic development.  Another successful Native Non-profit is National Center for American Indian Economic Development focusing on contracting and been successful at it for several decades. Some Alaska Native and Native American tribes are in the Fortune 500 Companies level.  What are tribes doing for states economically? Look at a few tribes are doing to the states having gaming: 1. CREATING JOBS AND ECONOMIC BENEFITS FOR All WASHINGTONIANS Economic Impact Washington tribes contributed more than $3.5 billion to Washington’s gross state product (GSP), according to a Taylor Policy Group study conducted in 2011. Washington tribes purchased more than $2.4 billion in goods and services from private companies. More than $1.3 billion was paid in wages and benefits to 27,300 employees, including 18,000 non-tribal member employees. State and local taxes paid by suppliers and employees amounted to $255 million. In addition to annually recurring purchasing and payroll impacts, Washington’s tribes also invested $259 million in construction of buildings and infrastructure, generating an additional $12.4 million in state and local tax revenue.  2. For Arizona: The Economic Impact of Tribal Government Gaming in Arizona Economic Impact Revenue from Arizona’s 22 casinos far surpassed cattle, cotton and citrus in the most recent figures available for each. Casinos took in nearly $1.7 billion during fiscal 2011, which ended June 30, according to the Arizona Department of Gaming’s annual report.  Several non-profits including schools, hospitals, and other non-profits have received contributions from the Indian Casinos of Arizona. 3. For California: California Impact of Tribal Gaming • “Our analysis shows that California tribal gaming generates $7.5 billion for California’s Economy: In 2010 alone, $7.5 billion in economic activity as supported by Indian gaming operations. Of that amount, more than half ($3.9 billion) was generated outside of direct spending from the gaming operations. That means that businesses throughout California’s economy — the vast majority of which are non-tribal — are being buoyed by Tribal gaming. •California tribal gaming creates more than fifty-two thousand jobs and $2.7 billion in income for Californians: The Beacon analysis concludes that tribal government gaming is an increasingly important pillar of job creation in California, supporting more than 52,000 good-paying jobs across the state and generating over $2.7 billion in income. The study estimates that upwards of 80% of casino employees are non-tribal members, and finds that many tribal gaming jobs are filled by lower-skilled workers, those hurt most by the economic downturn. • Tribal gaming generates $467 million in revenues supporting essential local and state services: According to the study, tribal government gaming operations generate $467 million in state and local revenues, and non-gaming operations provide an additional $47 million in state and local revenues. • Tribal government gaming has provided $818 million in critical support to non-gaming tribes: Revenue generated by tribal gaming provides essential support to non-gaming tribes, funding a range of services including education, health care, and housing. Non-gaming tribes receive up to $1.1 million annually from the Revenue Sharing Trust Fund. To date, the analysis shows that $818 million has been distributed to help reduce the reliance of non-gaming tribes on state and local governments. • California gaming tribes foster safe and healthy communities, active philanthropic giving: Many California gaming tribes sponsor police and fire departments to relieve strained county officials and protect tribal and non-tribal community members, according to the report. Tribal gaming revenues also support local health and dental clinics for tribal and non-tribal residents in critical areas where these services are not readily available. The study also reports that gaming their surrounding communities.”  4. For Oklahoma: Oklahoma Impact with Tribal Gaming “The Cherokee Nation’s total economic impact on Oklahoma grew since 2010 by about 25 percent, bringing it to $1.3 billion during 2012.The total economic impact is derived from looking at jobs directly contributed by the tribe, vendor purchases, vendor growth and spending as a result of those jobs in the Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses, the tribe’s business arm. “$1.3 billion. Think about what that effect has on you, your friends and neighbors,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “We are truly the engine that drives economic growth in northeast Oklahoma.” 5. Nation-wide Economic Impact of Tribal Gaming In 2012, Indian gaming is starting to show the consistent growth it had before revenues began falling off in 2009. In 2009, revenues fell from $26.7 billion to $26.5 billion, a 1% drop. In 2010, Indian gaming revenue was flat at $26.5 billion. In 2011, Indian gaming revenues jumped to an all-time high of $27.2 billion, which was a 2.5% increase from the previous year. For 2012, Indian casino revenues grew by 2.3% over the previous year to $27.8 billion, another industry high. In the current period, tribal gaming generated an overall economic output of $62.1 billion. This represents an economic output of $20.1 billion on the Indian reservations, where the gaming enterprises are located, and an economic output of $42 billion off reservation. As Indian gaming grows, it will continue to contribute billions of dollars to local, state and federal treasuries, reducing the burden on taxpayers while also providing jobs to hundreds of thousands of United States citizens.  Since the USA Government is not to be trusted by the tribes having to file a class action suit to regain only a portion of what was mismanaged. Some details on the mismanagement of Indian Trust Fund: “In 1996 banker Elouise Cobell filed a class action lawsuit charging the government mismanaged more than $100 billion in oil, timber, grazing and other royalties on land owned by some 500,000 individual Indian beneficiaries. After a trial in June 2008, Judge James Robertson ordered that the government is responsible for about $455 million of missing Native American money. The Native American plaintiffs expressed disappointment at the verdict, which holds the government accountable for only a fraction of the amount descendants claim to be owed, and have not yet said whether they will appeal. 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.”  Tribes of Indian Country, USA should give serious consideration to establishing a Native Nationwide Permanent Fund and start to grow revenues to specifically address eliminating poverty from all of our Native People and Children. For recently a class-action law suit was completed because of gross mismanagement of the Indian Trust Fund. “Alaska Permanent Fund Value (in dollars) of Alaska PFD checks paid out by state to residents since dividend program inception: $20.1 billion.”  Tribes can replicate the Alaska Permanent Fund and set aside gaming earnings to grow 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 a Native Nation economy for the here and now and into the future establish life-long progress to richness instead of keeping with the status quo. We can prosper from ourselves as Natives for our spending power is: Native Americans’ 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.  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.  Native Americans’ share of the consumer market was 0.8% in 2010.  Another words instead of prospering from hand-outs of the Federal Government we can prosper ourselves from our own Native revenues. We create Native businesses on the reservation settings that stops all the economic leakages and this in of itself will prosper with substantial wealth for Native reservations What does buying local do to the local economies?
1. American Indian Policy in the Twentieth Century, Edited by Vine Deloria, Jr., Introduction, page 4
12. Notes from Catalyst, Article Buying Power, People of Color Buying Power, March 6, 2013