This past Saturday citizens and leaders of Native Nations of the Oceti Sakowin participated in the "Indians Allowed" March in Mniluzahan (Rapid City). Despite the ominous reason for the march, it was a great reminder of our collective power as Lakota people. We are capable of creating change both politically and economically when we work together.
Rapid City and He Sapa (Black Hills) benefit greatly from the contributions of Native people. Not only are we the original stewards of the land, but Native-led businesses and organizations are responsible for creating hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs in the area. Even more important to the region is that Native consumers contribute well over a half a billion dollars annually to the economy of Pennington County -- which is home to Rapid City and a portion of the Black Hills -- alone!
The march this past Saturday was a tremendous example of citizens from across the Oceti Sakowin delivering a strong, united message. We need to build on that momentum and continue to support one another each and every day.
One of the most important ways that we can do this is by supporting Native business. Collectively on Rosebud, roughly $250 million dollars is earned by employees across all professions. However, 86% of that income (or $215 million) is spent elsewhere. In other words, for every $100 earned, $86 leaves the reservation through outside spending. This “leakage” greatly limits our ability to create jobs, support new businesses, and sustain our economy.
Not only does supporting Native businesses help the local economy, it also helps our people and planet. Native businesses are more likely to provide jobs to Native people, and folks with reliable employment are better able to take care of their families. On top of that, Native-owned businesses tend to be more environmentally conscious.
It may sound cliché, but every time you make a purchase you are voting with your dollars. Make sure you are voting for the future you want for your children and grand-children.