Economic development for Indian People

Get ready for an economy themed weekend edition of Indian Country Today
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Today we’ll learn about a foundation that’s investing in Native Americans and Black People. Plus, our daily broadcast began a year ago. Primarily to tell stories about the pandemic, from our living rooms. And some financial advice for saving some of your stimulus money. Also a new documentary looks at the extraordinary life of an eccentric ethnographer.

A slice of our Indigenous world

  • Freshman lawmakers Christina Haswood and Ponka-We Victors are seeing the governor of Kansas sign their first bill into law. 
  • If you, or someone you know, is experiencing domestic, dating or sexual abuse, there is help from the StrongHearts Native Helpline. 
  • CARES Act funding is going towards expanding the Osage Nation Ranch in Oklahoma. 
  • The Upper Skagit Tribe says Seattle’s dams on the Skagit River continue to put its treaty rights at risk.
  • NDN Collective in Rapid City, South Dakota is going to open an Indigenous-led community based school.
  • It’s been a year without pow wows due to the coronavirus pandemic but soon they may be dancing in Oklahoma.

Find more details for these stories at the top of today's show.

Eileen Briggs, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe

Eileen Briggs, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe

The Bush Foundation is investing one hundred million dollars to bridge the wealth gap for Native American and Black people living in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. This includes 23 Native Nations. Eileen Briggs, Grantmaking Director breaks this down for us.

Eileen Briggs:

"The wealth gap, really this idea of the kind of wealth as we think about in this country, a lot of the challenges around whether people are actually have the wealth to pursue opportunities like going to college or buying a home or starting a business. And for us at the Bush foundation, we really did the research around this. And of course there's been disparities for many, many decades."

"And we know that for the typical black household in the United States that we have 13 cents of wealth for every dollar that a white American household has. And for Native Americans the last time, it was really researched this about 10 years ago in 2000, it was 8 cents of wealth for every dollar of a white household in the few in the country."

"I really think there is a really necessary understanding that there have been race-based policies that have created the conditions and the situations in which all of our communities are really facing in this point. Everything from, as we well know in Indian Country about the everything from the Dawes Allotment Act, all the way to the Homestead act. All of those federal policies have affected our communities today."

Shawn Spruce, Laguna Pueblo

Shawn Spruce, Laguna Pueblo

Money management is something many of us struggle with. Having a budget may have proven difficult during this pandemic. And as we approach Tax Day, which has been extended to May 15, we talked to Shawn Spruce, who is Laguna Pueblo, for financial management tips. He’s a financial education consultant and has a podcast called, “Natives on a Budget.”

Shawn Spruce:

"Well, the first step is you want to track all your income coming in and whether that's from salaries, whether it's wages, whether that's maybe increased unemployment benefits, whether you maybe you've got a small business. You're self-employed you see so many people in Indian country these days that are self-employed gig economy, kind of workers."

"So all of those sources of income could be per capita, tribal dividends, whatever it is, add all those sources of income together. And usually on a monthly basis, some people like to do a shorter timeframe, keeps them a little more focused maybe every other week or even weekly, but add all that income together, figure out how much you have coming in and then track how much you have going out."

"What are your monthly expenses and keep a good, good record of that. There's all kinds of cool apps you can use to track how much you're spending every month. If you're using your bank account, if you're using a debit card you've probably got a mobile banking app that you can access. Tell you down to the penny, how much you're spending. If you spend with cash, write those figures down, hold onto receipts and track. How much is going out, how much you have coming in every month."

Daniel Golding, Quechan

Daniel Golding, Quechan

A new documentary looks at the extraordinary life of an eccentric ethnographer. The producer/director of Chasing Voices joins us today from Yuma Arizona. Daniel Golding, who is Quechan, profiles the life of John Peabody Harrington. Golding tells how he came to find this story and as a former language apprentice himself, how this story resonated not only with him but others in the language revitalization community as well.

Daniel Golding:

"During my learning the language, I came across Harrington who had documented our creation story from a man named Joe Homer back in like the early 19 hundreds, 1907, somewhere in there. So I just kind of researched him a little bit and I was kind of fascinated by his story. I thought it was just this really kind of interesting story of what he had done and the fact that nobody has really ever heard of him. He's this eccentric, linguist ethnographer who documented all these different languages. Over million pages of notes on over 150 different Native American languages."

"And all these notes are sitting  in the Smithsonian and the fact that tribes can access them and be able to use them to revitalize or rebuild their languages was just  an interesting thought to me in a story. In doing the research and working on this film, I found that there were tribes that had no speakers left. And that they were, they were really, really working hard to try to rebuild their languages and stuff."

"Harrington's work really was the link to bring back those languages. And we talk about that in the film a little bit with, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash and their work with rebuilding their languages based on only solely Harrington's notes. It's just amazing how that impacted them in such a good way to use those notes."

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Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix. 

Shirley Sneve, Sicangu Lakota, is vice president of broadcasting for Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter @rosebudshirley She’s based in Nebraska and Minnesota.

Patty Talahongva, Hopi, is executive producer of Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter: @WiteSpider.

Vincent Schilling, Akwesasne Mohawk, is associate editor of Indian Country Today. Twitter @VinceSchilling.

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