June 14, 2013

Popcorn drives Lower Brule economy

Popcorn Sovereignty: Growing the Lower Brule Tribe's Economy

By Tanya LeeThe Lower Brule Tribe in South Dakota hopes to leverage its popcorn enterprise into a driver of inter-tribal economic development, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has just awarded the tribe a $300,000 Value-Added Producer Grant to help.

The tribe's USDA Value-Added Producer grant was one of 110 such awards totaling $16.9 million given out this year to help agricultural producers increase earnings by expanding their markets, creating new products or developing new uses for existing products.

Lower Brule Tribal Chairman Michael Jandreau says the tribe will use the funding, which it will match with $310,000 of its own money, to develop a robust marketing program for the renewable resource and create more jobs for the 3,800-member tribe.

While many tribes are using casino profits to diversify their economies, Jandreau said that is not the case here. The tribe does have a gaming enterprise, the Golden Buffalo Casino & Motel, but it began its agriculture business in 1977, long before the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was even passed.

So far, the farm has provided $30 million in revenues to the tribe. That money has produced not only jobs, but also provided a steady income stream for the tribe and made it possible to buy back several thousand acres of homeland within the external boundaries of the reservation, says Jandreau.
Comment:  In related news, Indian reservations have economies that aren't based totally on casinos. Who knew?

For more on the subject, see Lower Brule Popcorn Company.

Below:  "Lakota Foods also sells six-ounce bags of flavored popcorn, like butter, cheddar and white cheddar."

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