Lakota Culture, World Economy

By Kathleen Ann Pickering | Go to book overview

3
Alternative Economic Activities

In economic peripheries such as Pine Ridge and Rosebud, there is no dependable access to mainstream market-based forms of making a living. As a result, most Lakotas engage in alternatives to wage labor or formal small business. Although these alternatives might appear to be outside the normal channels of the market economy, they too are affected by the world economy.

On the reservations, there are a large number of informal, singleperson microenterprise operations with no capitalization, inventory, or overhead. Microenterprise represents the smallest yet most widespread form of Lakota economic activity. It is estimated that 83 percent of households in Pine Ridge engage in some form of microenterprise, with 5 percent of households having no other source of cash income (Sherman 1988). The average annual income of microenterprise households in Pine Ridge participating in a peer group lending program in 1992 was $14,720, with $2,120 net business income; although the amount of income made through microenterprise is not large, it is enough to raise 21 percent of these microenterprise households above the poverty line (Mushinski and Pickering 1996:159–61). The Lakotas involved in microenterprises generally have less formal education and training than those involved in small businesses: 20 percent of them never went beyond the eighth grade, and another 17 percent ended their education before completing high school and had GED equivalency diplomas (Mushinski and Pickering 1996:153).

Microenterprises focus on production of traditional Lakota goods such as beadwork, star quilts, and Indian dancing outfits, and nontraditional goods and services such as work clothes, food and catering, car repair and cleaning, hair cutting, and babysitting. Most operate out of the home. With no obvious business location or commercial appearance, they must be found by word of mouth. Most Lakota microenterprises market their goods by selling door to door. Other common markets include local or regional events such as powwows or Indian art shows.

Lakota microenterprises follow an annual cycle of high production

-44-

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Lakota Culture, World Economy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - A History and Overview of the Lakota Economy 1
  • 2 - Culture in Market Production 14
  • 3 - Alternative Economic Activities 44
  • 4 - The Household and Consumption 62
  • 5 - Economic Aspects of Lakota Social Identity 83
  • 6 - The Political Economy of Need 119
  • Conclusion 142
  • Appendix 1 - Summary of Formal Interview Participants 147
  • Appendix 2 - Number of People Interviewed, by Community 149
  • Bibliography 151
  • Index 163
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