Thursday, September 10, 2009

High Finance in Lower Brule

The headline for this item caught me a bit off-guard.

South Dakota tribe buys New York financial company

It was like reading that the local VFW bought a Las Vegas casino, or hearing that the mailman retired to a home in the Bahamas.

Lower Brule tribal Chairman Michael Jandreau said the purchase will complement the tribe's other businesses and develop an income to improve the standard of living for its 3,600 members, 1,850 of whom live on the Lower Brule reservation in central South Dakota.

It's a big addition to an organization that was already larger than I realized.

The tribe already owns businesses in construction, food manufacturing, farming and ranching, and gaming. "This has the potential to far exceed that," Jandreau said of the tribe's Golden Buffalo Casino at Lower Brule.

Of course, the past few years have also shown that it can go bad in a big way as well.

I'm all for anything that will improve conditions on a reservation, although the checkered past of some tribe's finances invites concern. There's also an interesting benefit for the company.

Westrock Group Chief Executive Donald Hunter said the company's American Indian-owned status makes it largely tax-free.