Standing Rock Focuses On Economic Development - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Standing Rock Focuses On Economic Development

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Tribal leaders are doing what they can to spark economic development in Standing Rock.

One year ago, K & Z Pizza opened in Fort Yates. Owner Tim Krahler says the restaurant received a warm welcome from the community, but it wasn't easy to start a new business on the reservation.

"The biggest challenge was financing," says Krahler. "We had made an attempt with a couple banks in the area, and it seemed like we got into one road block after another. Some of it has to do with legal laws that deal with sovereign immunity."

A new set of laws aims to change that. Five years ago the tribe adopted the Uniform Commercial Code to act as a placeholder until it could develop its own law.

"Standing Rock has decided to move forward with its own laws to help spur economic development. North Dakota has some fine laws, but Standing Rock is a sovereign nation that deserves its own," says Chris Rausch, Standing Rock Legal Department.

The Standing Rock Economic Development Act  focuses on developing a private market. Tribal officials say there's money on the reservation to support businesses, but many aren't represented. One part of the act is the Uniform Tribal Commercial Code. Steven Sitting Bear says it levels the playing field for lending and borrowing across jurisdictions. It opens up capital streams into the reservation.

"Most of all the dollars that come onto the reservation go right back into the state economy. We would like to be able to utilize some of those dollars to help with infrastructure costs and get this thing going. And we're hoping to work with both states on that," says Sitting Bear.

"For me, as a proud tribal member of this tribe, it's about jobs. It's about good paying jobs. It's about careers," says Scott Davis of the N.D. Indian Affairs Commission.

Krahler says it can be sometimes be challenging for tribal members to hold jobs off the reservation.

"Some of them don't have transportation. So, having the opportunity to work locally is really an advantage for them. Ten people are working now that probably hadn't been working recently," says Krahler. 

Sitting Bear says the unemployment rate on the reservation is between 40 and 80 percent.

Standing Rock is the first North Dakota tribe to implement its own uniform commercial code.
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