RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) – Finding innovative ways to promote development in economically depressed Native American communities is the goal of this week's inaugural Great Plains Tribal Leaders' Economic Development Summit in Rapid City.

The Rapid City Journal reported that Great Plains and Rocky Mountain regional tribal leaders have been invited to the three-day summit to learn about leadership and business strategies, and resources to help spur economic development.

“It's a forum to see what other models are out there in regard to economic development, the importance of thinking outside the box," said Oglala Sioux Tribal Council member Valentina Merdanian.

Merdanian said tribal leaders need to work together to improve business opportunities, overcome financing challenges and encourage investment in reservation country.

“Oglala Lakota County is one of the third poorest counties within this nation,” she said. “Instead of just accepting that fact, it's: `How do we change it?”'

The event is a joint effort of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Association, Rocky Mountain Tribal Leadership Council, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Center for Indian Country Development and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

Tribal representatives from South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington, Nebraska and western Minnesota have been invited. Federal and state government representatives, and private sector partners from the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain regions are also expected to attend.


Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com