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Beefy business plan

The west river tribes need to stop worrying about the Docket 74B “award,” [Docket 74B refers to a lawsuit for monetary compensation over the illegal taking of the Black Hills] and start thinking about making ourselves and our grandchildren well enough financially to continue our flat-out rejection; to pursue the return of the so-called “federal lands,” and to sue for a one-quarter royalty, plus interest, of whatever was extracted from the 74B lands by using the one million tribal acres on Cheyenne River, the three-quarters of a million [acres] on Pine Ridge, half-a-million [acres] on Rosebud, and 400,000 [acres] on Standing Rock, along with the two-and-a-half million acres of allotted land on all four. We’re talking a grand total here of five million acres of treaty-status land in aboriginal, nontaxable ownership.

At an average BIA carrying capacity of, say, 30 acres per cow/calf pair per year, the tribes could run 165,000 head of cattle in huge grazing and fattening pastures scattered across western South Dakota from state border to state border. By breeding, fattening, transporting and processing the offspring (jobs, jobs, jobs), we could produce, using a 500 pound dress weight per carcass, 82.5 million pounds of good, red, saleable, naturally fattened meat each year for the regional market.

Beef is currently wholesaling at an average of $3.60 per pound. 82.5 million pounds at $3.60 per pound equals $297 million – a potential yearly gross income for the tribes of more than a quarter-of-a-billion dollars. I was told that in this kind of a business, two-thirds of the gross would be needed for expenses and overhead, leaving a cool $99 million net per year, meaning that we could easily equal, with net income, in 10 year’s time, the so-called “award” of nearly $1 billion, as it stands today in the U.S. treasury.

Oh! I forgot. Our land is already being used, lo these many years – dirt cheap!

– Greg Duchenaux

Eagle Butte, S.D.