Updated to include link to Select Committee report.
The House Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth met Thursday, April 7th in Washington to hear from tribal leadership representing tribes in Wisconsin and the United States. Chairman Jim Himes (D-CT) explained the commitee’s charge to study “the nature of economic disparity not just in the aggregate but in as much as it affects particular groups of people… because of course there’s different stories across different demographics.”
Vice President Thundercloud spoke on the economic conditions of the Ho-Chunk Nation. “The Ho-Chunk Nation is the largest employer in Sauk and Jackson counties. The Nation underwent some challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic including the closing of our gaming facilities. This was both a challenge for our governments programs and services, but also for an estimated $102 million annual payroll.”
“Native economic development fuels not only Tribal communities, but often the regional economies around them as well. While there are many successes, there are also barriers.” Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS) says, “Each and every single member of Congress has an obligation to uphold our federal trust responsibility to Tribal nations.”
Experts and leaders provided key recommendations, foremost among them to respect and expand self-governance of Tribal governments, emphasizing that they are best positioned to serve their communities and should directly receive and administer federal funding. The leaders also proposed strategies to tailor current federal policies for facilitating flow of capital, economic diversification, and data collection on tribal lands.
“Let’s incentivize building on our Reservations,” says Forest County Potawatomi Community Council Member James Crawford. “A lot of tribes don’t the ability to create the infrastructure to even bring business into their community.”