Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

State Firms Should Work with Indian Governments / for Development, Says Report

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

State Firms Should Work with Indian Governments / for Development, Says Report

Article excerpt

to utilize Indian trust land, capitalize on the state's Indian heritage and eliminate ignorance and prejudice was presented Monday to the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

"Aside from the federal government, Indians are the largest source of money in the state of Oklahoma," said Dr. Jerald C. Walker, Oklahoma City University president. He presented the report as chairman of Oklahoma's Cultural Diversity and Economic Development Task Force, which stemmed from the Oklahoma Economic Development Act of 1987.

Oklahoma should make more use of cost-savings benefits of Indian lands rather than seek them abroad, Walker said. He also suggested development of an Indian culture complex and making the state a marketplace for Indian-made goods.

"Tax benefits for business and industry on Indian lands abound, yet we seek them abroad," Walker said. "Indian labor is plentiful and reasonable in cost, but it awaits full utilization and development. This labor supply includes well-educated qualified Native American professionals."

The proposal, he said, is for cooperation with the 37 tribal governments in Oklahoma. However, "Indian frontier fighting attitudes" continue to prevent Oklahomans from realizing the full potential of American Indian economic opportunities, he said.

"The posture of state and local officials is too often confrontational when dealing with Indian tribal governments," Walker said. "We litigate, to our economic disadvantage, rather than cooperate.

"Oklahoma is home to the nation's finest Indian artists, sculptors and artisans, but we play second fiddle to Santa Fe."

An example was presented by the Sac and Fox Nation, which formed Sac and Fox Industries Ltd. to encourage business development on 900 acres south of Stroud or elsewhere on the tribe's 500,000 acres. The tribe has agreements with Cushing, Stroud and Chandler to proide finished industrial sites.

The basic benefits of using Indian trust property, said Walker and the Sac and Fox report, include:

- Cheaper money, with reduced invested capital and therefore increased return on investment.

- Material and goods can be obtained free of state and federal sales taxes under a variety of circumstances.

- Exemption from other taxes when structured properly, including certain excise taxes, fuel taxes, highway vehicle taxes and others.

Some U.S. firms accomplish such benefits by basing operations in other nations, he said, but the same thing can be accomplished by doing business with Indian nations of Oklahoma.

More specifically, some of the benefits, which vary from tribe to tribe, were listed by Walker, including:

- Immunity from federal and state income tax.

- Immunity from state corporation franchise tax, state ad valorem taxes, state sales tax and municipal taxes.

- Guaranteed set-asides where federal subsidies are involved, such as the Buy Indian Act and the 10 percent set-aside for minorities in various federal contracts. …

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