Economic Issues & Tribal Gaming |
Social Concerns, Education, & Governance
The economic growth of the community, while prosperous for an isolated part of the state, does not seem to keep pace with the population growth, around 40 percent of the population is under the age of l8, and the unemployment rate chronically remains around 42 percent. In spite of apparent success, the Turtle Mountain Reservation continues to be an economically depressed area. Complex social problems which continue to plague the community are substance abuse, domestic and child abuse, suicide, teenage pregnancy, and the growing concern of AIDS. The community has implemented numerous substance abuse prevention and day treatment programs, as well as day care centers. However, many of the social problems are by-products of a growing community.
Education has always been a priority concern for the Turtle Mountain Chippewa. Providing sufficient services for one of the fastest growing tribal communities in the state is a concern for the Turtle Mountain Chippewa. With a growing population, the education community must not only address the issues of sufficient space, but are faced with the need to revive and maintain the languages and culture of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa. Faced with population growth, the Turtle Mountain Chippewa are only able to construct facilities on an as-needed basis. Long-range educational planning is direly needed to accommodate both present and future growth of learners to be educated.
Throughout the history of educating children at Turtle Mountain, the federal government has provided assistance through various programs and pieces of legislation. The Tribal Controlled Community Colleges Assistance Act was of major importance for implementing the Tribe’s higher educational goals. Turtle Mountain Community College, established in 1972, has since its inception, been singularly successful in addressing the long-term higher education needs of the Turtle Mountain community. Since its establishment nearly 40 years ago, the College has served as a direct community service to the Turtle Mountain Chippewa.
While Turtle Mountain Community College has been successful in its effort to serve as true college for the “community,” continual growth and use by not only Chippewa residents, but local non-native residents, presents Turtle Mountain Community College, and other tribal colleges within the state, with a formidable challenge.
Like most governments, growing pains result from an increase in population. The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa must deal with the problems associated with continual growth, as well as issues of maintaining a semblance of traditional Turtle Mountain Chippewa culture. The Turtle Mountain Chippewa are currently plagued with political and tribal finance issues.
The stability of any government has been marked by consistent long-term leadership. With dwindling federal resources, governments at all levels—tribal, local, and state—are faced with assuming more responsibility for the administration of programs formerly supported by the federal government and are faced with doing so without funds attached. Faced with these challenges, tribes will be defined by their ability to meet these challenges. Ultimately the survival of the people, both culturally and economically will depend upon it.