SEC Welcomes USDA’s Director of Tribal Relations for Native American Heritage Month
The SEC is proud to celebrate the countless contributions of Native Americans, past and present, that make our nation stronger.
In honor of Native American Heritage Month, the SEC welcomed Heather Dawn Thompson, director of the Department of Agriculture’s Office of Tribal Relations, for a webinar on tribal economic development.
Ms. Thompson, who is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, walked the audience through the realities of tribal economics and how Tribal Nations work within the confines of a limited tax base and competing regulatory structures.
Ms. Thompson talked about how the United States has passed through multiple eras of federal policy with regards to Native tribes, and how each era has impacted both tribal sovereignty and self-sufficiency. She also discussed how current tax policy and jurisdictional uncertainty have led to underinvestment in tribal communities.
Turning to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Thompson said that while the closures of casinos greatly affected tribal budgets, the pandemic has also provided opportunities. Thanks to ARPA funds, tribal governments have been able to leverage supply chain problems to their benefit by creating meat processing plants and indoor growing spaces, which has supported both tribal self-sufficiency and economic development for the future.
Nearly 50 people tuned into the virtual event, which was hosted by the SEC’s American Indian Heritage Committee, Office of Minority and Women Inclusion, and SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce.