Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bill Yellowtail, surely a relative of my friend, Robert Yellowtail

“Privatizing land is fine but it falls far short of the answer,” says Yellowtail. “Our people don’t understand business. After 10 or 15 generations of not being involved in business, they’ve lost their feel for it. Capitalism is considered threatening to our identity, our traditions. Successful entrepreneurs are considered sell-outs, they’re ostracized. We have to promote the dignity of self-sufficiency among Indians. Instead we have a culture of malaise: ‘The tribe will take care of us.’ We accept the myth of communalism. And we don’t value education. We resist it.”

But Yellowtail believes that the situation is improving. He says there are more entrepreneurs than 20 years ago as networks of Native American business people have sprung up in Montana and elsewhere. “We have to start with micro loans, encouraging small businesses. Then we have to make it okay to leave the reservation because the most successful are going to want to branch out. Entrepreneurs are going to have to stick their neck out, be a role model. We Indians are going to have to do it.”

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