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Contemporary Issues - Economic Issues & Tribal Gaming

Economic Issues & Tribal Gaming |
Social Concerns, Education, & Governance

Economic Issues

Similar to the issues faced by most tribal nations, the issue of sovereignty for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa continues to be challenged. On the national level, issues materialize in disagreements between tribes and federal officials over the extent of services and appropriations given to the tribes resulting from treaty agreements. These services are generally funded through the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The BIA has the fiduciary (holding something in trust) responsibility for overseeing tribal funds. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, as a monolithic agency, is cumbersome and must deal with more than 500 tribes nationally. As a result, this agency has difficulty carrying out some of its tasks. Tribes, on the one hand, are ambivalent about the role of the BIA. On the other hand, they fear loss of services so vital to tribal economic survival. States continue to challenge tribal sovereign rights, especially in light of an uncertain national economy.

Many tribes have entered into gaming as a remedy for economic woes. The impacts of these business ventures are, as yet, undetermined. Because many of these ventures are new, especially to North Dakota, they have not had the luxury of stabilizing. The potential impact of these ventures on the economic condition on the reservation could be extensive. However, with a country confronted with a staggering national debt, and downsizing of the federal government, and pressures applied by both states, individual and collective tribal members, and private interests, tribes will have difficulty in maintaining what little gains they may be seeing from gaming. The net effect of these ventures, both nationally and at the state level, have seen pressure applied to tribes over issues of accountability, jurisdiction, and tribal rights. In a time of dwindling federal resources, tribes will be faced with the challenge of assuming more federally administered programs.

Today, as in the past, the Turtle Mountain Chippewa continue to change and adapt to different social, cultural, and environmental influences. The Turtle Mountain Chippewa realize their greatest resource is the people. The Turtle Mountain Tribe has gone through considerable effort to develop a commercial economy. While the Tribe has several very successful business ventures, many are dependent upon federal contracts. An organization of local businessmen has focused their effort at building one of the most successful and thriving Indian-owned private sectors in the state. A high level of diversification and entrepreneurship has contributed to the reservation’s business sector.

Tribal Gaming

The Turtle Mountain Tribe along with the State of North Dakota agreed on a gaming compact authorized in October of 1992. Tribal gaming was made possible through the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, Public Law 100-407. This legislation and Indian gaming, however, continues to be challenged by both private and state-level interests, both nationally and locally.

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