Lakota Culture, World Economy

By Kathleen Ann Pickering | Go to book overview

6
The Political Economy of Need

It is common for academics to debate what government social and economic policies would better meet the needs of the poor. What constitutes a “need” is not self-evident or culturally neutral, however. Worldwide, what indigenous people determine they need has not necessarily been what the beneficiaries of the world system have wanted them to need.

The interpretation of needs is itself a politically contested arena. This political contest takes place over whether to recognize a need as legitimate, over how to define what would satisfy that need, and finally over whether to satisfy it (Fraser 1989:144–58; H. Moore 1992:36–37, 141; Schmink 1984:91). At each juncture, there are competing concepts of need as defined by local cultures and traditions on the one hand and by the culture and expectations of the world economy on the other hand. The world economy has great power to homogenize and “naturalize” needs that in reality further the interests of capital, sometimes to the detriment of a local culture whose “needs” are supposedly being met (Castile and Bee 1992:6).

Three broad areas of need are explored here that are critical to indigenous people in general and to the Lakotas in particular: the need for self-governance, the need for economic development, and the need for support to prevent households from falling below a minimal standard of living. I argue that tremendous efforts and resources are spent on Pine Ridge and Rosebud to meet needs, but not those needs defined by the Lakotas.


Need for Self-Governance

One of the concepts behind self-government is the prospect of institutions that will be responsive to the needs of the local citizenry. The assumption for reservations is that when tribal institutions are involved, the needs of the people, as they define them, will be met. The tribal government is the main point of contact for many of the essential federal pro

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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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