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Hoping to improve economic opportunities on Pine Ridge Reservation

For over 10 years, I have had the privilege and honor of serving the people of South Dakota. First as a member of the State House of Representatives, then as a State Senator, and now as President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.


Each of these roles has reinforced my core belief that our state and my tribe have the immense potential to succeed if and when meaningful opportunities that focus on our communities arise. The American Jobs Plan is such an opportunity.


The American Jobs Plan is a multipoint, locally focused investment in the rebuilding of our regional and national economies. It will create millions of critically needed jobs as the American workforce is mobilized to expand, modernize, and rebuild our country’s aging infrastructure over the next eight years.


Recently, I provided testimony to Congress stating these investments will pay off in the short term for South Dakota families and hard-working individuals, both in terms of employment and in terms of improved access to safer roads, reliable internet, adequate housing, cleaner air and water, and so much more. In the long term, the Plan will lead the way to the revitalization of domestic manufacturing and small businesses with a renewed competitiveness for our American entrepreneurship in the global market that will, in turn, create greater stability for good middle-class jobs right here at home.


My tribe, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, supports the broad benefits the Plan will bestow on our tribal lands, throughout South Dakota and Indian Country, and across the United States. As a tribe located in a predominantly rural state, we know deeply the truth that sustained economic development requires a well-maintained infrastructure to support it.


A look at one aspect of infrastructure—roads—illustrates this point. Our Pine Ridge Indian Reservation covers an area of 2.8 million acres with over 2,400 miles of inadequate, pot-holed, and, at many places, unpaved roadway. These roads, like those across South Dakota, can become impassable during bad weather. The inadequacies of our reservation roads system impair our economy. We have difficulties attracting on-reservation businesses, accessing nearby urban centers, and reaching schools and places of employment. We quite literally cannot connect with local economic opportunities.


Another area that is critical to our region is access to clean and safe drinking water. The Oglala Sioux Tribe manages the Mni Wiconi Water Treatment plant that delivers potable water to 10 counties in Central and Southwestern South Dakota. This water system is the largest in the United States with as service area of over 12,500 sq. miles. This and other water systems in South Dakota will require a $730million investment over the next 20 years. The American Jobs Plan would bridge this gap. It would make a $111 billion investment to ensure we have access to drinking water.


Additionally, a historic $621 billion will be invested in America’s roadways and transportation infrastructure. With these funds, our tribe and the state will be able to complete long overdue work. We will have the resources to match our drive in providing our citizens with safe roads and transit systems with all the advantages for employment, business growth, education, medical care, family visits, religious services, and so much more.


The Oglala Sioux Tribe, South Dakota, and America as a whole need this Plan. Through it, we can finally take meaningful control over the future of our economic development, with benefits that will extend throughout the region for generations to come. Wopila (Many thanks) for taking the time to hear our perspective.



Oglala Sioux Tribe

P.O. Box 2070, Pine Ridge, S.D. 57770

Direct: 605-867-8487 – Cell Phone: 605-407-1231

Fax: 605-867-6076


Office of the President

Kevin Killer


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