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Tribal Affairs

State Tribal Economic Development Commission Appoints New Chairwoman

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Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Chairwoman Shelly R. Fyant

The State Tribal Economic Development Commission appointed a new chairwoman earlier this week. The commission plans to build up economic resources for tribal communities.

The economic development commission, established in 1999, has governor-appointed tribal representatives from all eight tribal governments in Montana.

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Chairwoman Shelly R. Fyant is the newly appointed chair as Indian Country faces economic troubles brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

She says the commission's responsibility is to understand how the pandemic affects tribal communities, which will take time.

“We continue to battle the variants, and just try to work through those situations on an individual tribal nation basis,” Fyant says.

Fyant says lacking infrastructure is a barrier most communities are looking at tackling.

“Where tribes are at right now is developing their own infrastructure. You know we had tremendous opportunities with the Cares Act Funding and now the American recovery plan funding. So I think that a lot of tribes are looking at that basic infrastructure.”

Fyant says every tribal community has its own economic priorities.

Taylar Stagner is Yellowstone Public Radio’s Report for America Indigenous Affairs reporter.