A Native run wood product business in KOTA Territory is thriving. Operators have been in business for just 16 months and in December they had the best cash flow ever.
Sawing, sanding, and laser engraving. It's another day at the Sioux–Preme Wood Products shop. The people at the business create trunks, jewelry boxes, and they specialize in caskets.
"We've never had two caskets that leave that are the same. We build a casket for the family, whatever they want. And we're also the least expensive solid wood caskets in North America," said Mark St. Pierre, General Manager of Sioux-Preme Wood Products.
The Wounded Knee Development Corporation opened Sioux–Preme Wood Products last September to create jobs. St. Pierre said it was slow to start but sales are now increasing.
"More families are finding out about us we've sold caskets to both Native families and non Native families. Our goal is really to be a principle supplier of caskets and specialty wood products in South Dakota."
Those who work at the shop said they enjoy making products for the community.
"Basically providing a service for our people that really didn't have an option," said John Romero, a carpenter at Sioux-Preme Wood Products.
The Wounded Knee Development Corporation just received a $54,000 grant from the State Board of Economic Development, and it will be used to create more jobs on the reservation.
"A big project that we're working on that this grant is
to help us with is a commercial plaza that would be on this
acreage right here and in the long run create over 100 jobs,
which is critical on Pine Ridge and in particular the Wounded Knee District," said St. Pierre.