Charles Trimble: Indian Country must take control
" It does Indian country no good to have the answers to our economic problems over-simplified as only a lack of government assistance or legislated incentives. And it doesn't do us any good to blame others - our federal trustee or greedy big business. We must take it upon ourselves to correct the deficiencies and disincentives in our tribal communities.

It's not just a case of job training, but one of teaching a work ethic from an early age. That includes hands-on experience, no matter how menial the task. Tribes might try sponsoring programs for youth to clean up the villages and the countryside on reservations, restoring cemeteries, or serving in internship programs in tribal and federal offices. The program could include teaching about the real-world discipline of the work ethic. Other programs could start the process of teaching youth the importance of budgeting and saving earned wages.

This all may sound simplistic and preachy but the process has got to start somewhere.

Again, no one can do it for us; certainly not the government, although the feds should not be let off the hook for things such as seed financing and training, and trust-related development.

And finally, we don't need anyone making us feel good with excuses for our deficiencies. It might be said that our people on the reservations are choosing preservation of traditional Indian ways and rejection of white man's ways, and other excuses and shibboleths some scholars and writers use to patronize Indian people. I knew many very traditional people in my village of Wanblee, men like Louis Whirlwind Horse and Luther High Horse, who had an excellent work ethic without sacrificing a bit of traditional culture.

But if we accept the attitude of ''our ways, take it or leave it,'' then we should not cry over the consequences of dependency and poverty that inevitably result."

Get the Story:
Charles Trimble: No easy answers in Indian country (Indian Country Today 9/5)

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