CCST 30 million in debt. What's going to be done?

Terry Woster of the Argus Leader is reporting this morning that the chairman of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe reports his tribe is over $30 million in debt with no end in sight:
The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe is $30 million in the hole and desperately in need of a cash infusion to beef up its anemic police force in the face of a surge in drug-related crime, Chairman Lester Thompson Jr. says.

Thompson, who took office in May, recently issued a report to tribal members outlining the severity of the tribe's financial woes. It included notice that the tribe owes the Internal Revenue Service almost $4 million in unpaid taxes and penalty fees.

The Crow Creek reservation has consistently ranked among the top five poorest areas in the United States. Unemployment tops 70 percent. Alcohol and other drug abuse is rampant. Education is sorely lacking.

The tribe has long had money trouble as a result.

Thompson blamed the latest crisis, however, on the tribe's fiscal ineptness.

"Our tribe is broke, due to excessive spending," he wrote in the report dated July 16. "All together, the tribe as a whole owes close to $30 million."

That's a problem Thompson and tribal council members must work quickly to address, possibly by realigning or closing programs, cutting payroll and getting a loan to pay off existing debt, the chairman said. But he acknowledged that creditors are leery because of the tribe's financial past.

He said his most immediate concern, though, is what he sees as a need for more police officers and access to a jail.

"The jail has been shut down for quite a while, and there's no communication with the tribe," Thompson said. "I'm chairman of a tribe in the poorest county in America. We don't have the money to operate it, and the Bureau (of Indian Affairs) apparently is unable to do it."
Read it here. As evidenced by the headaches that Cecelia Fire Thunder had when she took steps to ameliorate the OST's similar debt problems (completely separate from her headaches on the abortion issue), Chairman Thompson knows that it's not an easy fix.

Why do South Dakotans need to recognize the need for this situation to be remedied? First and foremost, they're fellow South Dakotans in one of the poorest counties in the nation. Secondly, rampant crime and drug problems won't remain confined to their backyard.

If you don't think it's our problem - if left unchecked, it soon will be.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Why should Americans be expected to continue providing tax dollars to support these "sovereign nations" within our own borders? If we're ever going to eliminate poverty on the reservations, we need to stop being enablers. Tribal leaders haven't addressed the issue because they know Uncle Sam is always going to be there. It's time to abolish the reservation, eliminate tribal government and "Americanize" American Indians.
Anonymous said…
I agree. Let's total up the number of acres of reservation land, divide that number by the number of enrolled tribal members and hand title to each one for their share of tribal land. They can sell the land, live on the land, or rent it out just like the rest of us do with our land and we can stop sending all that money to the rez because it will no longer exist.

A sore point with me - if the reservations are "sovereign nations", is all the money the taxpayers pour into the reservation system foreign aid?
Anonymous said…
Tribal leaders haven't addressed the issue because they know Uncle Sam is always going to be there.

I'm sure that's it. The people in Ft. Thompson are saying to themselves, "Gee whiz, why bother working on our problems when the government keeps us in this awesome lifestyle?!!"
Anonymous said…
...and you all wonder why Native Americans in this state never vote Republican.
Anonymous said…
Why isn't anyone talking about the former tribal chairman, Duane Big Eagle, and any liability on his part for the mess. Not all him but I'm sure someone in his family benefited to the tribes demise.
PP said…
Let's avoid accusing people of things, so I can avoid pushing the delete button.

The problems go much deeper than what anyone individually might have done, as it's not just this South Dakota reservation that's in dire straits.

Me, I think more than anything, they need a reformation of credit, banking, and investment laws for tribes on a federal basis to standardize things.

It's the same reasoning why banks are terrified of Amendment E - it would be a different set of laws unlike anything they typically deal with, so they'd likely leave the state because it's not worth the headache.

If a bank can be assured that they can recoup property that they've loaned money against, they'd likely be more willing to take those risks.
Anonymous said…
Anon. 11:49, the real question is, why are they still voting Democrat when nothing has been done for a zillion years and their plight just gets worse?
mhs said…
Anon #2, I think the tribes would change the math on your formula just a bit to something like "Total up the value of all real property in the entire western United States and cut a check to each tribal member for his share"

With around 40,000 enrolled members in S.D., the value of property in just the Rapid City school district ($4 billion) would equate to a hundred grand each.

Seems to me the few billion the federal government passes out with an eyedropper to the tribes every year is a bargain for the taxpayers. Cook County (Chicago) for example, spends more on indigent health care every year than the entire Indian Health Service's budget.

And Anon #1: an entire population that speaks english, can trace their roots here back five hundred years at least and has the highest percentage of military enlistments for any ethinic group in the county sure are "Americans" in my book.
Anonymous said…
Yes mhs, they are indeed Americans, but why do we still have a Bureau of Indian Affairs and an Indian Health Service? They only serve to perpetuate the notion that Indians are somehow special and in need of federal government support.

And Anon 11:25, if Ft. Thompson isn't providing economic opportunity for the people who live there, why do they continue to live there?

There seems to be a widespread belief among American Indians that leaving the extended family means turning their back on their culture. Every brand of ethnicity has its cultural traditions. Norwegians, Germans, Czechs and Swedes have all merged with our society, and have managed to preserve their cultural traditions. Is is still the fear of losing their culture that causes American Indians to continue to cling to life on squallid reservations?

Seriously, help me understand why the cycle of poverty continues. Why can't tribal leaders turn this around?
Oldguy said…
How many people are enrolled in that tribe? I was thinking less then 3000 which would be at least $10,000 debt for each and every person. WOW! Somebody sometime has to ask where did the money go?
Anonymous said…
mhs, I'm sure the tribes would like to change the math, but why stop with just western South Dakota? Why not give them back the whole darn country since they claim it was "stolen" from them?

Unless my history books were wrong, the United States won the Indian wars. The tribes have no more right to any of land off the reservation than I do and our government's pateralist molly-coddling of our "red brothers" on the reservations has almost destroyed them.
george said…
wow, the ignorance of this state runs deep.

"why are they still voting Democrat when nothing has been done for a zillion years and their plight just gets worse?"

that's the point. what have republicans done for native americans? who has been in power in this state? i'll give you a hint: not democrats.

"There seems to be a widespread belief among American Indians that leaving the extended family means turning their back on their culture."

yeah. members who leave the tribe and teh reservation are typically shunned and viewed as traitors. is this practice right, maybe not, but family and cultural bonds are difficult to break and turn away from.

additionally, native americans were forced into "schools" to be "americanized." the children were taken from their families and forced to learn english and to forced to forget their culture. on top of that, there were numerous reports of sexual assult at these schools. i wonder why native americans are skeptical of whites?

"Why not give them back the whole darn country since they claim it was "stolen" from them?

Unless my history books were wrong, the United States won the Indian wars. The tribes have no more right to any of land off the reservation than I do..."

yes, might makes right. the first rule we understood as kids, and then we were educated. additionally, this person probably d/n have a claim to land (nor do i) but native american tribes entered into contracts/agreements with the US government. these contracts gave specific land to the tribes, which was later taken from them by force b/c the US didn't want to abide by their own treaties (sp?). so technically, yes the land was stolen.

maybe before ranting about an issue it would be wise to be educated on it (in this case, Native American issues/history).

maybe the reservations need to be abolished or some reforms need to be done, but at least know the facts.
Anonymous said…
George said: "that's the point. what have republicans done for native americans? who has been in power in this state? i'll give you a hint: not democrats."
We are not talking about the state when it comes to the reservations, but the feds. What about the sainted Daschle? The eight years of the Clinton Administration? The ineffective Tim Johnson? Things just got worse, did they not? Who knows, maybe Republicans would take a different approach. Maybe they should be given a chance to prove themselves.
Anonymous said…
anon 9:28
Well then the State of SD needs to leave the Tribes alone. For example the State could stop raiding the Tribal sales/motor fuel/tobacco taxes that the Tribes collect in order to help themselves. The State could afford the Tribes the same opportunity as it relates to gaming with unlimited quanities of machines. The AG could stop hog housing bills to stick the Tribe for more of the taxes that are collected on sovereign lands. Ah - screw it keep f***ing with the Indians and they will rise up and vote in State election and f*** US.
Anonymous said…
Or better yet, lets continue to educate our children (like an 8th grade teacher who shall remain nameless) that all of their parents' tax dollars goes to support Indians and therefore Indians don't have to work. Maybe we should do the converse on Indian Reservations and teach the Indian students that all of their parents' federal tax dollars goes to farming subsidies. How can you expect the Indians to help themselves when you got the State sticking their hands into the Tribes' money pots and you have layers and layers of federal and state regulations/statutes that the Tribes have to adhere to to get what they need. As a Republican, I thought the party was supposed to be about less government and regulation. So why are the Republicans continuing to put more and more strings on Indians Tribes. If the Republican party followed their Republican tenants, we would have more Indians voting for us. The State forgets that the more the Tribes are allowed to help themselves the lesser the burden will be on State resources. Why does nobody seem to understand this in Pierre.
Anonymous said…
Anon 1:30, Probably because Republicans insult and belittle them. Read this thread for some examples.
Anonymous said…
And Anon 11:25, if Ft. Thompson isn't providing economic opportunity for the people who live there, why do they continue to live there?

Where do they go? Do you have a couple thousand apartments that don't require a rental history or deposit? Do you have a couple thousand jobs that pay the rent on those, plus the rent for elders who can't work? I know life seems pretty easy when you're born white and middle class, but there are barriers our there for many people in this country that you haven't even dreamed of.
Anonymous said…
Anon 10:32 - Oh, woe is me. I'm so oppressed. The racists won't give me a chance. The whole world is against me. Sure, the government will pay to educate me, but my family will disown me if I leave the rez. So I guess I'll just sit here and watch the car bodies rust.

Yes, there are obstacles, but in order to improve their lot in life, people have to be willing to help themselves.
Anonymous said…
Anon 10:47,
You hit the nail squarely on the head. As a mixed blood living on the edge of the reservation, I've lived with this issue all my life and have seen it from both sides. Unless a person decides to take responsibility for his own life he (or she) will never have a life and what race you are is immaterial. Those who refuse to take charge of their own destiny will continue down the path of least resistance, always ready to blame someone else for their own lack of initiative. Entitlement Indians, subsidized farmers, and welfare folks in the big cities have much in common and their troubles are usually “someone else’s fault”, or at least that’s their excuse.
Anonymous said…
WOW, this trip through the conservative mind has very scary. Tell me members of the "family values" party why you are so quick to slam a culture that places family above all else?

The biggest difference between D' and R's is at least the Democrats believe we should try and honor our treaties. Though we haven't been perfect at least we acknowledge them.

I guess I shouldn't expect any less from a state that accepts the out migration of its young people as a way of life. Why do you think it is okay to force young people to leave their families and way of life behind to make a living. We complain that our farm communities are dying because of this so why do you think it is okay for the Native American communities? Don't their communities ie the reservation communities have as much right to survive as our farm communities?

Anon 10:47, when was the last time you heard a farmer blame someone else for their problems other than Mother Nature. Do you understand farming? Do you understand the idea of a cheap food supply as a matter of national security? I guess you would rather pay H
$10 dollars for a loaf of bread. Guess what...the government is making sure you can afford to eat. Perhaps we should stop that and you can grow your own food or force you to move some place where you can afford to eat. I am guessing you wouldn't like that option.
Anonymous said…
12:15, what does subsidizing farmers and giving welfare dollars to Indians, blacks and poor white trash have to do with the elders on CCST running up bills they have no intention of paying?

If you are so eager to subsidize laziness, inefficiency and chemical dependency, why don't you just send your paychecks to the government to give these guys? I'm sure they'll let you have anything left over that one of the entitlement classes doesn't "need".

Oh, wait. I guess there is always a "need", isn't there?

Do you understand what socialism is? And is that what you want for your children?
Anonymous said…
Anonymous 3:06,

Why don't you pose that question to 11:11. He/she is the one who invoked farmers. I mistakenly said 10:47.

Tell me 3:06, is someone who has MS and receives "welfare" white trash? Please tell me?
Anonymous said…
“Tell me 3:06, is someone who has MS and receives "welfare" white trash? Please tell me?”

MS is not a symptom of white trash. Not taking responsibility for your own actions and not being willing to work at any job that is available to you to support your family is.

MS, along with a short list of other disabilities, is something you have no control over. Holding a job when you’re able-bodied, even when that job isn’t ideal, is something you have control over and refusing to support yourself and your family when you have no physical or mental disabilities makes you white trash. Or black trash. Or red trash. Pick your race, because race has nothing to do with this issue and personal responsibility has everything to do with what kind of person you are.
Anonymous said…
“Tell me 3:06, is someone who has MS and receives "welfare" white trash? Please tell me?”

MS is not a symptom of white trash. Not taking responsibility for your own actions and not being willing to work at any job that is available to you to support your family is.

MS, along with a short list of other disabilities, is something you have no control over. Holding a job when you’re able-bodied, even when that job isn’t ideal, is something you have control over and refusing to support yourself and your family when you have no physical or mental disabilities makes you white trash. Or black trash. Or red trash. Pick your race, because race has nothing to do with this issue and personal responsibility has everything to do with what kind of person you are.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous 4:33 and 4:33, do you have any clue how TANF works? You have to have a job to get it. It requires people to work so many hours a week. Unfortunately hours spent in a classroom trying to better oneself don't count thabks to the Republicans in Pierre.

If you're referring to people on disability, you have to have many medical tests done documenting a need. A family member of mine who could barely walk due to ms was denied three times before she was able to get help. Maybe she is just lazy.

You don't understand these programs. Yes, there are a handful of people who abuse the system but 99 % are really disabled. I bet you are one of those people who opposes the Americans with disabilites act.

Since you don't like government assistance, stop using your electricity, telephone, internet, and public roads. Those are all government funded and are a larger share of your tax dollar then welfare.

I am betting you're a big supporter of 1215. Protect them until they are born and then deny them medical care by doing away with the CHIPs program...that's Children's Health Insurance Program. Hey, too bad their parents are just lazy.
Anonymous said…
I don’t have any idea of what TANF is or how it works, and don’t care to know. What does that have to do with the fact that the tribe is drowning in red ink because of mismanagement, apparent misappropriations of funds, cronyism, and an almost total lack of a work ethic?

Quit jumping on your welfare high horse and riding off in all directions. All of us, black, white, red or yellow, must take responsibility for our own actions and look for that helping hand at the end of our own arm or we're all sunk.
Anonymous said…
5:31,

Are you serious? You attack everyone who is asking for a "hand out" and then you say you don't care how the system even works. You just make uneducated assumptions.

How do you know that the tribes problems are because of "mismanagement, apparent misappropriations of funds, cronyism, and an almost total lack of a work ethic?" Or is that just another one of your uneducated assumptions. Clearly you have demostrated that you don't care about the facts and you just say whatever makes you feel like a MAN. Sounds like a personal problems to me.

Before you judge others, why don't you take a good look in the mirror.
Anonymous said…
"Quit jumping on your welfare high horse"

I only know one Republican that says stuff like that and he is the last one to talk about hand outs and personal responsibility.

Ironically, he is never responsible for his own problems. It is always someone elses fault.
Anonymous said…
As I said before, I’m half Indian, started life on the rez and now live on private land bordering the reservation. I know firsthand the problems created by the reservation system and how a majority of the tribal members have had their lives destroyed by depending on the welfare system instead of taking responsibility for their own lives.

Yes, the family used to be a strong unit in native culture. No more. Now, for the most part, the parents are so strung out on drugs and alcohol that the grandparents are the ones raising the kids. Most of these kids are from mothers who never married and have children by several different men and those guys could care less if they’ve fathered children. The suicide rate is terribly high, a good share of tribal members have criminal records and there are more car wrecks caused by drunk drivers on reservation roads than there is in large cities.

Don’t preach to me! I and my family have broken out of the system and plan to stay out. My kids are being raised to be responsible for themselves. I suggest you raise yours the same way so my kids don’t have to take care of them.
Douglas said…
"Do you understand what socialism is? And is that what you want for your children?"

Anonymous might want to grab a dictionary or political science basic text and compare welfare state with socialism, etc.

Take the money and run doesn't work in the long run...at least not for those left behind.

Are there Native American leaders willing to talk about the problems with tribes and desire to return to a stone age culture? I assume that any talk on a realistic plane produces a near instant assumption on the part of most tribal members that a person is racist bigot.

I sure don't know what the solution is, but it sure isn't what we are doing right now. It may mostly be a federal problem than a state problem however. A state with limited economic resources probably is not willing to dump money into a hole and burn it year after year after year.

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