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2017-06-15 / Voices

Innovative Ideas Will Keep Our Tribe Afloat

BY BRANDON ECOFFEY
EDITOR • LAKOTA COUNTRY TIMES

Each year there is approximately $1 million dollars spent by tribal government on travel expenses. For most of Indian Country the story is very similar as our governments have engrained the habit of spending exorbitantly to attend meetings and workshops. What could be done to bring these numbers down?

I am one of the rare few who is fully supportive of necessary travel for our elected leaders. It is very important that our interests are represented at bargaining tables on Capitol Hill or NCAI, etc. Its just that we have become extremely inefficient on how we spend travel funds. That must change.

One idea that crossed my mind was the notion of creating a spot for an official foreign diplomat who would be tasked with representing the interests of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. This person’s job would require a ton of travel, but it would only be one person.

Of course for someone to do this job adequately it would require the tribe to not only recruit the right person, but it would also need pay them what they are worth. We have many tribal-citizens who have established themselves in Washington D.C. and who have built alliances with other tribal-nations who would fit perfectly in this role.

This would eliminate the need to send multiple council-members and their support to crew all across the country on weekly basis. It also frees our lawmakers up to work on important local issues that are almost always urgent.

Another way to eliminate some costs of travel is to look within our population for trainings. Amongst our own local community there are many skilled professionals who could be hired to train tribal employees in nearly every field.

As federal dollars start to dry up over the next couple of years it will take innovative and progressive ideas to keep our government afloat. Lets hope we are ready to adapt and evolve throughout these potentially difficult times.

*Brandon Ecoffey is an award-winning journalist who was born and raised on the Oglala Lakota Nation.

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Lakota Country Times, Newspapers, Martin, SD