Chopped liver. Cartoon by James Giago Davies / Native Sun News Today

Native Sun News Today Editorial: Native people still treated as invisible

The invisible consumers of Western South Dakota

There is an expression used in the Jewish community that best describes how they are often shoved aside and treated as the invisible people. It goes, “What are we; chopped liver?”

And that is exactly the way most of the major cities in South Dakota, and that includes Sioux Falls, Aberdeen and Rapid City, look over the heads of the Native Americans in their communities as if we are invisible.

As you can see by the column in this issue by our publisher, he has taken great exception to the fact that organizations like the Ascent Innovation Center and Elevate Rapid City, can make all of these elaborate plans to build Rapid City without once considering the economic contributions that the Native Americans make. What are we, chopped liver?

These groups do not want to talk about why so many major businesses are abandoning Rapid City. They should take their heads out of the clouds and include as a part of their plans to attract major businesses to this City because of the fact that so many businesses failed because their corporate offices in cities far from here do not know the demographics of Western South Dakota. They should take it upon themselves to educate these corporate leaders about the realities of this region’s economics.

First of all they need to let those corporations considering locating here know that there is an untapped market made up of the residents of all of the Indian reservations surrounding Rapid City. Combined the populations of those reservations probably exceeds 60,000 people, nearly the size of Rapid City.

These invisible consumers spend millions annually in Rapid City, but the corporate deciders living in Chicago, New York or Dallas, have no idea that such a market exists.

And what is just as important, the local media must take their heads out of their rumps and look at the Native Americans as major consumers and as major contributors to the economy of Rapid City. Our publisher attended a meeting where the heads of a group called Elevate Rapid City was speaking. The speaker assured the audience that they would be utilizing the educational resources in this region by reaching out to the School of Mine and to Black Hills State University.

Our publisher raised his hand and asked, “Why isn’t Oglala Lakota College included?”


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