Whenever I visit Native American reservations, I notice that things are kind of slow. I am uneducated about the legal restrictions of doing business on the rez, so maybe things are harder than I think. But, here are my ideas. Basically, it is hard to make money when you are physically distant from wealth and far from a bustling economy. The reservations are normally very far from the rest of society.
Philosophy of land is cultural
BTW, one of the issues with reservations is that — since it is “free” land with no taxes or purchasing fees associated with it, the land tends to be devoid of any value. In modern society it is better to purchase land in small amounts that you intend to milk for all its worth rather than having endless hectares of worthless abandoned land. On the one hand it is not fair how our government helped itself to tribal people’s land. On the other hand it is not fair that I have to pay land tax as a person of European origin while native people get free land that is tax free. On the third hand the free land is not useful land anyway, so they are not getting much.
Traditional native people have a philosophy of land where land is something they just intrinsically own simply because they were there for a long time, while it is not a piece of property they wish to develop in any particular way. They like to let the land sit and breathe. Western people traditionally have had to pay for land or inherit it and realize that it is a commodity in short supply to be optimized as much as possible. The roots of the native philosophy evolved from the fact that land traditionally was so plentiful since the population was so sparse — and the population was sparse due to constant war, starvation, disease, etc.
So, how can Native Americans prosper while being in the middle of nowhere? The answer is easy. If you don’t know how to solve a problem, look to nature. In nature, certain species of trees, plants or animals thrive in particular environments or at particular heights or conditions. Being in the middle of nowhere puts you far from markets, but close to vast quantities of land. Since land is so prohibitively expensive in cities, having endless expanses of land is helpful for many industries. But, what are these industries?
Here are some ideas for industries that would work well for Native Americans.
1. Buffalo Farming
This is already being done by many people and is a growing trade. Many tribes, particularly in the mid-west made their living from eating buffalo meat for thousands of years, using the skin to make tee pees, etc., They used every part of the buffalo as a matter of practice and religious belief as a general rule. The issue is that traditional Native Americans hunted wild buffaloes and rarely engaged in domesticated farming which is where the cultural adjustment happens. Hopis and Navajos (the exception to the generalization) are more domesticated in their culture even though Navajos had a long nomadic history migrating down from Alaska over the last 2000 years. Incidentally, the Navajo language and culture are still similar to many Alaskan ones. These two tribes typically grow corn and have goats, sheep, and other animals that they own as opposed to letting them run wild like many other tribes. But, I digress.
Buffalo meat is one of the most lean and healthy meats you can eat. Free range or wild meat is more healthy as a rule and has better qi energy (Chinese medicine) because it wanders around more as opposed to being trapped in concentration camp conditions like other animals. Since it is a traditional animal for many tribes, they might take pride in domesticating it. Additionally, there is a growing market for this meat and big money to be made. All people have to do is learn this trade, and own some land with grass on it. Pollution from fracking, mining and oil drilling can contaminate conditions easily, and this is a huge barrier to success in this business. Knowing what to feed these beasts, how to kill them, butcher them, find buyers, and transport the proceeds are some of the skills involved. Knowing how to make a killer buffalo burger is also a good supplemental skill.
2. Farming & water resources in general
Farming is good when you have infinite land. However, land does not always have good soil or water. Mastery of water harvesting is essential to survival and this is an issue of global concern as much of the world has a water shortage. The ability to collect water and use it efficiently is wealth in the future. There are ways to collect rain water and store it. Desalination is another valuable and expensive high tech skill to have. Those who can control water will survive while others will die in decades to come. The world will also fight wars over rivers and water supplies according to my spiritual guru. You can always get good soil trucked in for a fee. Even the driest parts of Arizona get about 12 inches of rain per year. The skill is figuring out how to get the water and store it in tanks. These are skills that are attuned to living in harmony with nature which is a typical concern of traditional Native Americans which is why I recommend this skill. Farming is hard work and takes a lot of getting used to. I know nothing about it. But, maybe you will master it.
3. Solar panel manufacturing and installation
China leads the world in making solar panels. But, since this is a craft that can save the environment, it should be popular with tribal folks. Many tribes are getting very involved in solar technology such as the Lakota, and I hope this trend continues. Manufacturing involves having buildings where you can do work. It also involves a knowledge of ever changing technology and cost optimization strategy. You need to know how to sell your crafts and transport them as well. Solar manufacturing takes up lots of space, so being far away from cities works in your favor as you have tons of open space.
On a side note — I think people should lobby the government not to shut down oil pipelines (because that won’t happen for a long time) but to have more restrictions for oil pipelines such as safety measures. If there can be alarm systems when pipes are leaking or redundancy in the walls of pipes. If there could be legislation for how pipes can cross rivers that would be very critical as well. Personally, I feel that if you put a river through a pipe for half a mile where the oil pipe is going over it — if there is a leak, the leak will not go into the water. This is a great way to preserve water — our most valuable resource.
4. Marketing crafts worldwide
Native Americans are famous for having some of the best jewelry around. But, let’s expand on this skill set. First, you can sell jewelry outside of your local area to people in other states or countries. Perhaps someone in the Gui Lin region of China needs a new kachina — you’ll never know if you don’t try to tap into that market. Additionally, there are many other things people can make besides traditional jewelry. People could make sofas with traditional native designs. People could make mousepads. Incidentally, I saw Native American mousepads for $36 at a store. Not many people will pay $36, but if you can get the price down to $8, you might be able to sell some. Clothing manufacturing is another craft to consider. Furniture manufacturing is yet another good craft.
5. Modular home manufacturing.
It is much cheaper to buy a home in pieces and just put it on a foundation than to build on site. But, the pieces have to be made somewhere. Modular home manufacturing involves having lots of space and reservations typically have this. Lots of skill is involved, so try to hire good teachers so the whole tribe can benefit.
6. Plumbing, Roofing, Flooring.
Many homes in reservations are falling apart while high unemployment rates abound. If those unemployed people could get some training and learn to fix broken buildings, that would solve two problems at the same time. There might not be money to pay for the services or even the parts involved. However, as tribal people, the whole basis of a tribe is all for one, and one for all. You should be willing to help you tribal brothers and sisters without being paid much, or anything at least to some extent even in modern times. Remember — native culture is based on giving, secular modern culture is based on taking. Native culture is supposed to be communal, so don’t think about yourself. Help others, give, and make sure people get training too.
Mold is another issue, particularly in Lakota areas. A new specialty trade needs to be developed — namely mold removal specialists. Mold is dangerous and can damage your health and specifically your lungs as it is a living organism.
7. Food packaging and processing.
The diet of modern day Native Americans is not healthy. Fry bread is not indigenous to tribal people, but was brought by the Spanish. Native people treat it as their native dish, but it is very damaging to your liver and should not be consumed. Asian Indians have flat bread too, but theirs is cooked in a frying pan with a tablespoon of oil rather than a quart. The manufacturing of healthy food products could save the health of millions and provide a valuable export for many tribal communities. Here are a few ideas:
Soups – creating healthy soups with lots of vegetables, buffalo and other ingredients is a great idea.
Meat Sticks – one tribe sells meat sticks with buffalo and berries in it. Tastes great but a little expensive.
TV Dinners — healthy ones with lots of veggies and lean meats would be preferable. And don’t use microwaves as that is very bad for your health.
Chips – not the healthiest, but baked is better than fried and it is a labor intensive industry that can erase unemployment fast. Potato chips, veggie chips, tortilla chips are all options.
Jams – with all the berries that grow up north, making jams is a great and healthy idea.
Native Americans have not exploited this opportunity yet, but they should. Americans are often very interested in America’s past, and what better way to learn about it than on a resort on or near a reservation. There could be great food, story telling, dancing, art, and nature walks. But, nobody will hang around at a resort unless the food is good and unless they have clean rooms and lots of fun, so mastering the art of being great at hospitality in all ways is a trade to master.
Native Americans need to reinvent their cuisine. The American South recreated their traditional cuisine after the civil war. Everything they owned had been destroyed so they had to start all over again. Two hundred years ago native people at all types of things, but that culture has mostly been lost. In New Mexico, native food is typically lamb, fry bread, beans, and green chile. This is some of my favorite food, but you can’t just hand someone a plate of cooked ingredients — it needs to be gourmet. Mastering the art of creating and improvising on dishes and making them works of art is a skill. You might consider hiring some outside help for this. If I were creating a menu, I would have:
Zuni kabobs — meat on a stick with some green chili rubbed into it.
Hopi hummous – a popular middle eastern dish with some Southwester touches and a catchy name.
Lamb tacos – using fry bread, but hopefully cooked in less oil and a mini fry bread instead of the huge ones.
Vegetable and rabbit stew – sounds great, but add some herbs for God’s sake.
10. Rabbit farming.
The easiest animal to grow is rabbits. You will get more meat for each pound you feed them than any other species. And what more, they multiply like rabbits. This is a great farming idea. Additionally, rabbit meat might be healthy as rabbits jump around a lot. You get that jumping energy in you which according to four out of five shamans surveyed, might be a good energy to have if you are feeling sluggish.
11. Outsourcing medicine man knowledge
The traditional medicine of native people was from medicine men. This dying art is quite valuable. Western medicine preoccupies itself with drugs which are toxic and have side effects. Chinese medicine is better with acupuncture and herbs. But, what about using your mind force and tapping into shamanic energies to heal the sick. This has been in use for tens of thousands of years and I was a master of this in many past existences. Many people of European ancestry might benefit from this dying art. It is imperative that you teach your newer generation this art and share it with the whites. You might have a new source of income and get brownie points with God for all the people you help.
There is a huge growing interest in shamanism in the west. This is probably because those that used shamanism in tribal societies died and got reborn as white people (a logical but unproven conclusion.)
The other benefit of shamanism is that there are some very capable spirits in places like New Mexico who you could do healing work in conjunction with. Those spirits are happy to help, but need someone to communicate with the living. Sorry to freak you out, but I know these spirits and they are great. They cured my sciatic pain over the years and helped with other health problems. They prefer to work on me while I am driving in remote areas.
12. Summer camp
Instead of being ashamed of your heritage and trying to act all white (and many of you don’t have to try as it comes naturally) you can export your culture to children in the form of summer camp. You can teach stories, archery, make tee pees (or igloos) and have fun activities.
13. Call Center
People outsource call centers to Manila and Bombay, but there are plenty of unemployed people who speak excellent English in the five hundred or so indigenous communities who would be super call center employees. There is big business in call centers and endless work. You have to keep the prices low and the burn out rate is high, but it is a real solution to unemployment. If even a few people in your tribe can learn the trade well and can manage the others, you could get a cheap building and start your own call center. You do need to know how to market your business, and that is an art in itself. But, many companies will subcontract to you and freelancing is also popular.
IDEA FOR A COMFORTABLE COMMUNAL LIVING SITUATION
Below is my idea for a healthy living environment for tribes.
My vision includes having a large piece of land perhaps several miles wide. The land could have buffaloes roaming around, and even wolves or other zoo animals in some areas. It is my assertion that humans are happier and healthier when they stay connected to their power animal. Some of us descend spiritually from cats, dogs, buffalo, snakes, or apes, etc. Having your living environment chock full of animals makes it a tourist attraction as well as a pleasant place to live.
There could be call centers with large windows overlooking grazing buffaloes which might be emotionally satisfying (and reduce turnover no pun intended). There could also be manufacturing going on in certain buildings of soups, solar panels, and other things. There could be very heat efficient living quarters in other areas. Most of all, transportation needs to be efficient and having everything walking distance and keeping cars on the outside of the compound seems like a wonderful idea. Although having a few slow moving electric carts or Segways seems okay.
For those in a northern climate, having independent houses seems to not make sense. You lose too much heat through the walls. It makes more sense to have buildings that are multistory and cubical and can accommodate dozens of families. That way there are less outer walls and less opportunities for heat to get out.
The most salient feature of this type of compound is to have walking tracks that go through the buffalo fields. I would call it a buffalo walk. This is a great way to stay healthy as a matter of group activity in a way where you connect to your spirit animal which for many Lakotas is the buffalo. Of course, my animal is the Bengal Tiger and they would probably eat you if you let them run around freely. But, if you had enough land you could keep a few around for good luck. Just feed them plenty of raw meat.
The ending joke of the compound idea is the father and son team that export hippie t-shirts throughout the world for obscene profits who start the day by saying, “Today is a good day to dye!”
If this industrious communal living situation proved profitable, tribes and clans would be able to buy large expanses of land and let buffalos go free just like in the 1700’s. It is possible to recreate your tribal past, but it can only happen if you can master the art of modern economics and pay tax on your land.
On a final note, whatever you do in your reservation — don’t become a mobile notary otherwise you will spend the rest of your life complaining about fax backs and not getting paid on time. And one more thing — never look a Bengal Tiger in the eye, unless it is your power animal and wants some milk.