American Indian Economic Development

Archive Report

Economic Crossroads

Long Stuggle to Build Self-Sufficiency

American Indian tribes may be approaching a crossroad in their struggle for economic independence in Indian country. President Reagan's budget cutbacks are forcing tribal governments to scramble to open industrial parks, trailer courts, tourist stops, bingo halls and other business ventures to bring money and jobs onto impoverished reservations. Shifting world energy markets are presenting some tribes with difficult decisions on managing the coal, oil and gas, uranium and other natural resources that their reservations contain.

In the process, Indian leaders are trying to build self-sufficient reservations—no longer dependent on federal economic assistance—to back up the political self-determination that tribal governments gained in the 1970s. As Mescalero Apache Tribal President Wendell Chino declared, his people “are still tough and independent, ...

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