SD leads nation in Native American poverty rate - KOTA Territory News

SD leads nation in Native American poverty rate

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 30 percent of Native Americans in six U.S. Cities are living in poverty and Rapid City is one of them.  A spokesman for a group that helps Native Americans find work believes he knows why.

The United Urban Warrior Society works with community organizations and businesses to find hiring opportunities for low-income Native Americans, usually people who moved to Rapid City after living on a reservation for years.

The Black Hills Chapter President, James Swan, thinks many Native Americans struggle transitioning from a rural environment to city life.  But he says the biggest reason for the high poverty rate is local businesses discriminating against Native Americans.

"I've talked to many people in positions of locating jobs for Natives through different programs and they've been told right out that they're not interested in hiring Natives," said Swan.

"That might be one of the factors.  I think there's more to it than that and I think one is lack of opportunity.  I think two is training and having the skill set necessary to apply for jobs in a very competitive market," said Rapid City Mayor Sam Kookier.

Kooiker says a way to address the poverty rate is to encourage Rapid City businesses to expand and make it easier for new businesses to come to the city.

Rapid City's Native American poverty rate is basically in line with the rest of the state.  51 percent of Native Americans live in poverty in Rapid City compared to 48 percent for South Dakota as a whole.

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