Overcoming Challenges to Business and Economic Development in Indian Country. Appendix: B Profiles of the Study Participants


Bristol Bay Native Corporation

The largest private landowners in Alaska are the Native corporations formed as a result of ANCSA. The Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) received $32,694,953 as its total proportionate share of the monetary entitlement. Class A shares were awarded to Alaska Natives residing in the Bristol Bay region and enrolled in one of the Native villages. Class B shares were awarded to Alaska Natives residing in the Bristol Bay region who were not enrolled in one of the Native villages in the region. The holders of Class B stock are referred to as "at-large" shareholders. As of March 31, 2002, there were 6,153 holders of Class A stock and 676 holders of Class B stock. Among them, 6,082 and 636, respectively, hold voting stock. The outstanding stock of the corporation remains subject to restrictions on alienability (selling their shares to persons outside their immediate family) unless a decision is made by shareholders pursuant to ANCSA to terminate the restrictions.

The Bristol Bay area lies on the Alaska Peninsula. It extends westward to Ivanof Bay and along the northern shore of Bristol Bay. Its regional boundaries extend about 350 miles north to south and about 230 miles east to west, covering about 40,000 square miles, the size of Ohio. The 1990 Census reported 6,972 residents. The Alaska Native population constitutes about 4,639 (66 percent) of these residents. The vast majority of BBNC's land remains undeveloped, with many Alaska natives depending on a subsistence economy that includes fishing, hunting, gathering, and gardening.

BBNC controls 3 million acres of land. Since it was established in 1972, BBNC has paid out more than $48 million in dividends and has total assets greater than $153 million. In fiscal year 2002, BBNC had a net income of $7.55 million and operating revenues of $182 million. Annual dividends to shareholders were $6.00 per share, with a total payout of $3.25 million.

The Bristol Bay Area is best known to people outside of Alaska as an area rich in salmon. Three of Alaska's major Native groupsВ Yup'ik Eskimos, Athabascans, and AleutsВ live in the region. Twelve of the villages have both city and tribal governments, and many have 10 percent or more non-Native residents. BBNC, the for-profit ANCSA corporation, serves 29 Native villages.

Among the successful BBNC enterprises are the Anchorage Hilton Hotel, a major revenue producer; Alaska United Drilling, Inc.; an 8(a) environmental and engineering services corporation; IT services corporation; manufacturing; and construction. Subsistence hunting and fishing are significant contributors to the regional economy. During the salmon season residents catch and process salmon for their own use. Freshwater fish, porcupine, and rabbit are taken year-round. Moose, caribou, ptarmigan, ducks, and geese are hunted in season. Also harvested in the summer are salmon berries, blueberries, blackberries, huckleberries, wild raspberries, and low and high bush cranberries.

BBNC's mission is to enrich the Native ways of life and to protect the past, present, and future of the Natives of Bristol Bay. Its goals are to double dividends within eight years (by 2005) and to protect Native use of land and wares in Bristol Bay.

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRS)

The Cheyenne River Sioux tribe has five bands: Teton Lakota, Mnicoujou, Siha Sapa, Oohenumpa, and Itazipco. These bands are affiliated with the Teton Sioux/Lakota tribes and speak the Lakota dialect of the Siouan language. These tribes originally inhabited the forests and grasslands of central Minnesota, where they subsisted on hunting and gathering wild rice. Over time (1600s-1700s), the tribes moved onto the plains. As they moved west, they acquired horses from tribes of the southern plains. They bred and traded large pony herds, and hunted buffalo. Subsequently, trappers, settlers, gold miners, and federal troops occupied the tribes' lands and virtually destroyed the buffalo herds.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation was originally part of the Great Sioux Reservation, established by the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. This reservation consisted of over 60 million acres, an area that encompassed all of western South Dakota, North Dakota, and eastern Wyoming, as well as parts of Nebraska and Montana. The Sioux Agreement of March 1889 set reservation boundary lines to encompass roughly 2.8 million acres. The Surplus Lands Act of 1908 and 1910 authorized the Secretary of Interior to open 1.6 million acres of the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation for homesteading and settlement by non-Indians. As a result, the tribe or tribal members own 47 percent of the reservation land. The reservation population is 16,861, of which 14,423 are enrolled tribal members. The reservation is located in north central South Dakota. U.S. Highway 212, a major east-west thoroughfare, and State Routes 65 and 63, north-south roads, pass through the reservation.

Agriculture and livestock are important sectors of the reservation economy. About 28,000 acres of reservation land are farmed either by the tribe or by tribal members. Crops include corn, spring wheat, winter wheat, barley, alfalfa hay, and native hay. About 915,000 acres of rangeland are in use. The tribe maintains a herd of 600 bison, which is managed by the tribal Planning Department. Almost half the tribe's annual income is derived from farming, and there is significant potential for expanding the use of farm and rangeland.

The tribe owns and operates a number of businesses, including the Lakota Thrifty Mart, the Cheyenne River Telephone Authority, Cheyenne River Cable TV, the Cheyenne River Gas Company, the tribal beef herd, and the tribal bison herd. They also operate a supermarket in Eagle Butte, a beef sales pavilion, a gas station, and two laundromats. Businesses under development include a Super 8 Motel, a Class II and III gaming facility, and an industrial park. Manufacturing facilities are anticipated to occupy space at the pending industrial park.

Citizen Potawatomi Nation

Headquartered in Shawnee, Oklahoma, Citizen Potawatomi Nation is the largest of the eight federally recognized Potawatomi tribes and the ninth-largest tribe in the United States, with an enrollment of more than 26,000.

During the 1970s, the tribe made several unsuccessful attempts at enterprise development but incurred no large losses. In 1978, the tribe started a bingo operation, which was under the control of an outside management organization that provided the investment for the construction of the gaming facility. The tribe questioned the honesty of the management company and, after a court struggle that lasted several years, took over control of the facility in 1987. Under tribal management, the facility has been expanded several times and has been a major success for the tribe. During the period that the gaming facility was under outside management, the tribe received annual payments ranging from $70,000 to $150,000. The tribe began utilizing this revenue stream, in part, for the development of new enterprises.

Tribal funds were used to leverage federal grants and loans to launch a series of new enterprises including one of the area's largest grocery stores. Other ventures include an 18-hole golf course, a smoke shop, two convenience store/gas stations, a bowling alley and snack bar, a miniature golf course, a tribal construction company, a day care center, an Internet service company, and an electronic data services company, all established over a 20-year period. The tribe operates a Class II gaming enterprise, with off-track betting, games of skill, and bingo.

In addition, the tribe purchased a local radio station, and when the FDIC took control of the leading local bank, First National Bank of Shawnee, the tribe was able to purchase the bank using its own funds and a $1.3 million loan from the BIA. The tribe was able to pay off the loan in 33 monthsВ ahead of schedule. The bank now yields an annual profit of $1 million to the tribe.

The tribe has experienced growth in administration and tribal enterprises, and its community outreach program is one of the largest employers in the county. The tribe operates a health and wellness center, a child development facility that serves over 250 children every day, and an employment and training center.

Colville Confederated Tribes

Located in the north central part of the state, the Colville Indian reservation is one of the largest in Washington State, with a land base of 1.4 million acres, or 2,100 square miles. Colville lands are diverse, with natural resources such as standing timber, streams, rivers, lakes, and minerals.

The Colville reservation was initially created through executive order in April 1872 and covered close to 3 million acres of land in what was then "Washington Territory." This executive order lumped together 12 tribes that had not been party to a treaty with the United States (Colville, Nespelem, San Poil, Lake, Palus, Wenatchi, Chelan, Entiat, Methow, southern Okanogan, Moses Columbia, and Nez Perce of Chief Joseph's Band). Three months later, another executive order changed the boundaries of the reservation, eliminating a large and highly desirable portion in the initial order. Other bands of Indians were added later and produced a culturally and politically complex reservation of Colville Confederated Tribes (Colville). The vast majority of the present-day reservation remains under collective ownership and includes descendents of the original 12 tribes. The reservation consists of tribally owned lands, land owned by individual tribal members, and land owned by others, described as fee property and taxable by counties rather than the tribes.

There are 8,700 enrolled members, with about 50 percent living on or adjacent to the reservation. The Colville reservation has over 5,000 residents, both Colville tribal members and their families and other non-Colville members, living in small communities.

In 1938, the federal government approved the Colville Reservation's Constitution and By-Laws, which established the Business Council as the governing body of the tribes. Administrative headquarters are in Nespelem. The tribal government employs nearly 1,200 people in permanent, part-time, and seasonal positions. The work force is composed primarily of Colville tribal members and non-tribal members from the communities where the enterprises are located.

Colville operates on a yearly budget, which is financed primarily from revenues generated from the sale of timber products, casino operations, and goods and services produced by other tribal enterprises. Colville chartered its own corporation, CTEC, which oversees several enterprises, including three casinos. The corporation employs several hundred permanent and part-time employees.

Doyon, Ltd.

Doyon, Ltd. is one of the 13 Native regional corporations established by Congress under ANCSA. With a land entitlement of 12.5 million acres, Doyon is the largest private landowner in Alaska and one of the largest in North America. Doyon lands extend from the Brooks Range on the north to the Alaska Range on the south. The Alaska/Canada border is the eastern border and the western portion nearly reaches the Norton Sound.

Voting shares of stock were originally issued to 9,061 Alaska Natives who had a tie to the region. In March 1992, shareholders approved giving stock to Native children born between 1971 and 1992, missed enrollees (Alaska natives not counted in previous censuses), and elders who were age 65 by December 1992. Currently, there are over 14,000 shareholders. Doyon headquarters is in downtown Fairbanks.

Doyon's mission is to continually enhance the financial position of its shareholders in order to promote their economic and social well-being, and to protect and enhance their land and resources. Doyon's core businesses consist of:

  1. Doyon Tourism, Inc. This is the newest company, formed as part of the corporation's strategic plan to expand its tourism business. The business comprises the Kantishna Roadhouse, Denali River Cabins, and Kantishna Wilderness Trails.
  2. Doyon Drilling, Inc. (DDI). DDI was formed in 1982 as a joint venture between Doyon, Ltd. and Nugget Alaska, Inc. In 1993, Doyon purchased Nugget Alaska's interest and became the sole owner of DDI. DDI operates on the North Slope of Alaska, with five rigs designed to drill oil wells in northern Alaska conditions. The rigs are some of the most technologically advanced land drilling rigs in the world. Its two primary contractors are BP Exploration (Alaska), Inc. and Arco Alaska, Inc.
  3. Doyon Universal Services (DUS). Established in 1992, DUS is a joint venture between Doyon, Ltd. and Universal Services Alaska, LLC. The company provides catering, security, facility maintenance, and other remote site support services to oil and gas, construction, and mining facilities throughout Alaska. In the past few years, it has also expanded into the urban market and currently provides services to clients in Anchorage and Fairbanks.
  4. Doyon Properties, Inc (DPI). Created in December 1997, DPI manages Doyon's commercial properties and provides a full range of real estate activities and services.
  5. Lands and Natural Resources. Doyon's mission is to manage its ANCSA lands prudently, focusing on promotion of balanced natural resource development and assurance that title to Doyon lands is secure. Near-term goals include: (1) increased exploration that would generate additional income and job opportunities, (2) reduction of unauthorized uses of Native lands, (3) encouragement of shareholder use of Doyon lands, and (4) continuing efforts to achieve completion of ANCSA and Native allotment land conveyances.
  6. Doyon Foundation. Created in 1989 to promote the health, education, social, and economic development and well-being of Alaska Natives, the Doyon Foundation provides basic educational grants, scholarships, and internships to help students advance their career paths. The foundation funds a natural resources program, specific professional development workshops, high school career and college fairs, and cultural preservation projects.

Gila River Indian Community

The Gila River Indian Community traces its roots to the Hohokum Indians, who lived and farmed along the Gila River Basin in southern Arizona. The Hohokum developed extensive irrigation systems for their crops throughout the Gila and Salt River valleys. The community comprises two tribesВ the Pima and MaricopaВ and is located in south-central Arizona. The Maricopa Indians first lived along the Colorado River, but moved to the Gila River area before Europeans arrived there.

The 372,000-acre reservation, close to Phoenix, Tempe, and Chandler, Arizona, was established by an act of Congress in 1859. Tribal administrative offices and departments are in Sacaton. The total reservation population is 14,000, of which 11,550 are tribal members.

Since its inception on the reservation, gaming has been highly profitable for the tribe. While the community does not disclose the amount of these profits, it is clear that they have transformed the reservation economy. Investing profits from its three gaming facilities, the community is developing a resort project that will feature two world-class 18-hole golf courses and a 500-room hotel and convention center. Gila River is increasing and diversifying its economy by developing industrial, agricultural, retail, and tourism/recreational businesses. The community operates three industrial parks that are home to several local and national companies. One of them, Lone Butte Industrial Park, has been identified as one of the most successful tribal industrial parks in the country.

Agriculture continues to be an important component of the Gila River economy. The reservation contains 15,000 acres of community farms that support a variety of crops, such as cotton, wheat, millet, alfalfa, barley, melons, pistachios, olives, citrus, and vegetables. Independent farming operations cultivate an additional 22,000 acres of similar crops, bringing the total agricultural product value to more than $25 million.

Mississippi Band of Choctaw

The 1830 Treaty of Rabbit Creek called for the removal of the Choctaw from their ancestral homeland in the Carolinas, Mississippi, and Tennessee to Oklahoma Territory. Subsequently, 104,320 acres in Mississippi were awarded to the 5,000 Choctaw who remained on the traditional lands. Fraudulent land sales fueled the checkerboarding of the reservation. Today, 8,400 members live on 29,000 checkerboard acres in seven communities. Using the profits generated by tribal business, the tribe is purchasing reservation land to consolidate and fill in the checkerboard areas within each of the communities. The goal is to simplify jurisdictional and development issues for the tribe and for the state of Mississippi.

The tribe's formula for its economic success is based upon three pillars: (1) a tribal land base under tribal government control, (2) a stable tribal government; and (3) an institutional structure designed to facilitate business decisions. Over the past 15 years, the tribe has followed this model to develop a highly successful reservation economy. Since the 1970s, the tribe has decreased unemployment from over 75 percent to 4 percent; increased per capita income 346 percent; and provided 6,600 jobs (over 3,600 of which are filled by non-Indians in the surrounding communities).(1)

The tribe has a payroll of over $100 million and manages 12 enterprises that generate over $300 million in annual sales. The tribe's success has contributed greatly to the economies of surrounding communities and counties and to the state.

Mississippi Choctaw is recognized as having one of the most successful BD/ED programs in Indian country. The tribe's BD/ED success has been achieved despite a location in a region weak in economic resources and distant from urban markets. The tribe owns and operates a diversified portfolio of manufacturing, service, retail, and tourism enterprises in both the United States and Mexico. The tribe is sole owner of 22 business entities and the majority owner of joint ventures in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, South Carolina, and Texas.

Navajo Nation

Navajo Nation is the largest tribe in the United States, with reservation boundaries extending into Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. The Navajo reservation is located on 26,109 square miles, or 17.1 million acres, roughly the size of West Virginia. Navajo Nation's land base also includes three Navajo satellite communitiesВ Alamo, Tohajillee, and RamahВ located in western and central New Mexico. The seat of Navajo Nation's government is Window Rock, Arizona.

The tribal government is patterned after the federal government. It is composed of three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. An 88-member popularly elected council, with 12 standing committees, serves as the legislative body of the Navajo Nation government. The executive branch is headed by a president and vice president, who stand for election every four years. The judiciary branch includes a tribal court system; an appellate court; and informal, traditional peacekeeping courts.

There are more than 230,000 enrolled tribal members. According to the 2000 Census, of the 180,000 residents residing on tribal land, 168,000 are enrolled Navajos, with the remaining being non-members who reside and work within Navajo Nation. Another 80,000 Navajos reside near or within "border towns"В Farmington, Gallup, and Grants, New Mexico; Page, Flagstaff, Winslow, and Holbrook, Arizona; Cortez, Colorado; and Blanding, Utah. The remaining Navajos, enrolled and non-enrolled, reside in metropolitan centers across the United States.

According to the 2000/2001 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy report from the Navajo Nation Division of Economic Development, 56.1 percent of Navajo people live below the poverty level, the per capita income is $6,217, and the unemployment rate is 43.65 percent. Limited availability of housing and employment on the reservation forces people to commute long distances every day for work, school, health care, and basic government services. Seventy-eight percent of the roads within Navajo are unpaved; weather conditions often make many of those roads impassable.

In December 2002, as part of Navajo Nation's economic development program, an agreement was signed between Trans-Elect Inc. of Reston, Virginia, and the Dine Power Authority for the $600 million Navajo Transmission Project. The project will develop a 470-mile high-voltage transmission line to link Navajo Nation with major electricity markets in nearby states. Navajo Nation has been a seller of coal to energy development by non-Navajo entities. The power line is part of a larger package for Navajo Nation's economic development program.

Three Affiliated Tribes (TAT)

The Fort Berthold Reservation, established by the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851, is home to three tribes: the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara, which once lived along the Missouri River, hunting buffalo and growing various crops. To escape diseases brought by and conflict with European immigrants, the Hidatsa moved up the Missouri River in 1845 and established the village of Like-A-Fishhook. Eventually they were joined there by the other two tribes. After their move to that area, they helped build and eventually settled around a fur trading post for the American Fur Company. Unlike other plains tribes, the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara lived in permanent settlements and developed an economy emphasizing agriculture.

The Fort Berthold reservation is located in west central North Dakota and covers 12,284 square miles in six counties: McLean, Mercer, Dunn, Mountrail, McKenzie, and Ward. The Missouri River traverses the middle of the reservation. The total land area of the reservation is 988,000 acres with 457,837 in tribal and individual Indian ownership. The western and southern areas of the reservation are predominantly rolling prairie grasslands, occasionally broken by buttes. The northern and eastern areas of the reservation are desirable fertile farmland.

In 1947, the federal government took 155,000 acres of the reservation to create the Garrison Reservoir (now called Lake Sakakawea), which divided the reservation into five districts. Communication among the five is difficult, because only one bridge, at the northern end of the reservation, crosses the lake. It can require a 100-mile trip to go from a northern district to a southern one.

The major economic occupation on the Fort Berthold Reservation is cattle ranching and farming for a number of tribal operators. Commercial business by private operators includes convenience stores, gas stations, restaurants, a laundromat, an auto repair shop, a video arcade/fast food shop, arts and handcrafts, and other service and commercial vendors. The major employment on the reservation is provided by the tribal government, Fort Berthold Community College, tribal businesses, the BIA, and IHS.

Turtle Mountain Chippewa

The Turtle Mountain reservation is located in north central North Dakota about 10 miles south of the Canadian border. The reservation proper occupies 72 square miles. In contrast to most of North Dakota, the reservation consists of low rolling hills, trees, and brush, of which 40 percent is covered with lakes, small ponds, and sloughs. Six thousand acres are used for farming, and the rest is individually owned. The reservation is home for the members of the Pembina Band of Chippewa. Many of the reservation inhabitants are of mixed Chippewa and French ancestry, which are known as Mechif/Metis. Tribal membership is about 25,000.

Tribal enterprises include:

  1. The Sky Dancer Hotel and Casino, which offers more than 400 video and reel slots. The hotel has 97 guest rooms, a swimming pool, and the Chippewa Trails Restaurant.
  2. The Turtle Mountain Manufacturing Company is a 160,000-square-foot manufacturing entity located within the exterior boundaries of the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in Rolette County, North Dakota. Services include machining, metal fabrication, and painting.
  3. Uniband, in Belcourt, North Dakota, which provides a broad range of IT services to the federal government and private-sector clients.
  4. Dynaband, LLC is a call center formed in 1998 as a joint venture between Uniband and Dynamics Marketing.


1. Testimony of Chief Phillip Martin before the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs, March 29, 2000.

View full report


"report.pdf" (pdf, 360.51Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®