The Sioux San Hospital in Rapid City, South Dakota, is currently being run by both the Indian Health Service and the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Health Board, with the latter portion known as the Oyate Health Center. Photo by Kevin Abourezk

Economic Development sometimes a pitfall

Native Sun News Today Columnist

It’s all about money….and land? .... And power.

We are capitalists, after all. We normalize the growing loopholes provided by lawyers.

Spokespersons for revising the Indian Health Service (Sioux San Hospital) are holding meetings every week at the Mall, at the Center, in Spearfish, wherever white communities and Indians can gather. They want to talk about “land exchange” and “organizing,” and making over the most significant historical native building site in this town as “a design for profit.”

At the same time, South Dakota U.S. Senator Mike Rounds wants to talk about revising the EB-5 immigrant-investor program (a term Indians aren’t much interested in but which seems destined to be thought of as synonymous for scandal); Rounds is pushing a bill extending EB-5’s authorization to 2025.

Elizabeth Cook-Lynn. Courtesy photo

All of these spokespersons for “development” are no doubt attempting in good faith to bring new economic strides into a state that often has falling ag and business signs, refuses to talk about the economics of Hemp farming, and goes on into the cities and towns that continue to vote for huge bond issues.

Even Indian Reservations have begun such schemes for money as, for example, pursuing online payday lending as a means of bringing more money into strapped communities. Didn’t we just vote to get rid of these

I’m no economist but I sort of sympathized with the Black Hills Sioux Treaty Nation people who filed a restraining order law suit to try to get things under control in urban Indian Country. What can be done in the broader non-Indian community, however, is more difficult.

I think I also agree with the opponents who don‘t want the EB-5 program revisited saying that this latest Rounds legislation “puts foreign investments in the pockets of wealthy U. S. developers.” And who needs that?

It is, after all, a visa-for-sale scheme. A rich foreigner can get a green card with the minimum investment of $500,000, providing he brings in or preserves 10 jobs. His family members can become citizens. Lindsey Graham (R.SC), and John Cornyn (R-Texas) are co-sponsors.

As I recall reading about this EB5 fiasco years ago, former governor Rounds was criticized when one of his administrative officials, overseer of the program, committed suicide as he was under investigation for grand theft. South Dakota’s participation in the whole federal immigration sector is still under review.

As for tribal economic development, and urban Indian strategies for the bureaucratic economic moves going forward, there is reason to approach the latest schemes with caution.


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