Kevin Abourezk: An open letter to President Obama
"I want to personally thank you for the $3 billion in direct funding and $500 million more in bonding authority you've given to Indian Country in your $787 billion economic stimulus package.

I can't think of a group of people who have a greater need for economic stimulus than Native people, who suffer a 25 percent rate of poverty and a median household income 30 percent less than that of all Americans.

Still, I hold a number of reservations (no pun intended) about some of the stipulations on these Indian stimulus funds as they affect my tribe.

But before I lay out those concerns, I need to mention a few statistics about my tribe, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota:

• My tribe suffers a 34 percent unemployment rate. That's compared to 7.2 percent for the entire United States.

• Of those who are employed, 80 percent live in poverty on my reservation (compared to an overall 12 percent poverty rate for the United States).

• The per capita personal income for Todd County, which lies entirely within the Rosebud Sioux Reservation, ranked 66th out of 66 counties in South Dakota in 1995.

Given these economic challenges, my tribe ranks as one of the neediest in the country, and also one of those least likely to win stimulus funds given the requirements of the stimulus money."

Get the Story:
Kevin Abourezk: An Open Letter to Barack Obama (RezNet News 2/26)

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