|Program||# of Grants||EDA Funds|
|Economic Adjustment Assistance||2||$1,100,000|
With only 13 businesses per 1000 reservation residents, Shannon County, South Dakota, maintains one of the highest poverty levels in the nation. Covering a vast 11,000 square mile area (over 2 million acres), the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation’s remote geography and rugged landscape create inherent difficulties in creating and recruiting new businesses. Located approximately 120 miles from the nearest town of size, residents of the Reservation must travel long distances to find jobs, creating an often unsurmountable barrier to employment. The impact of historic, generational poverty has created social problems and economic adjustment problems across the Reservation.
In 2011, First Peoples Fund, (FPF), in partnership with ArtSpace Projects, Inc., and Colorado State University, completed a study titled Establishing a Creative Economy: Arts as an Economic Engine in Native Communities, a first of its kind analysis of the Native arts economy. Focusing on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, this study found that art is a driver of local Native American economies and that it is a critical component of creating sustainable and vibrant communities. The study estimated that 30 percent of Native people on the Pine Ridge Reservation are artists of some sort and most of them live below the poverty line. Fifty-one percent of Native American households depend on a home based business for income, and 79 percent of these home based businesses consist of traditional arts. A second component of the study showed that there are six elements Native artists need to be successful - access to markets, supplies, credit and capital, increased business knowledge, informal networks, and space.
In 2015, EDA invested $750,000 to support construction of the Oglala Lakota Arts and Business Incubator on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. When completed, the incubator will offer incubator space and entrepreneur education and support programming to new and emerging Oglala Lakota artisan businesses and Reservation-based entrepreneurs. In addition to creating an estimated 100 additional jobs on the Reservation, this project will help to reignite cultural identity, foster innovative entrepreneurial business development, and diversify the economy for the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.