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Fort Peck tribes move forward with economic development plan

Seal of the Fort Peck tribes.

The Fort Peck tribes approved a set of goals last week to build better infrastructure and foster a better environment for economic opportunity.

The tribes are moving forward with a comprehensive economic development strategy that includes modernizing infrastructure and capitalizing on economic opportunities already found on the Fort Peck reservation.

Matt Lower with Interstate Engineering helped develop the next steps in modernizing Fort Peck. He says the plan focuses on overhauling the tribe's web presence, capitalizing on ecotourism opportunities and improving the streets.

“The big economic development component of this is that it creates more opportunities to access the economy, both as consumers and producers because you can safely access places to do business, but you also create opportunities to do that without the need to own an automobile,” Lower says.

Lower also says that he’s worked with tribal governments before and he's found communities like Fort Peck to be full of opportunity for growth.

“I found in my career, the tribal governments are some of the most forward-thinking rural governments in this country," he says. "Partly because they have to, they have nothing to lose. And partly because they're their own sovereign nations. They set their own rules in many places. So the creativity is boundless. We see that on the Fort Peck Reservation, and we see that in this plan.”

Lower says Fort Peck already has a number of infrastructure successes to work off of — including the nearly finished Wellness Center and incoming travel plaza, and a growing college-age population attending Fort Peck Community College.

A link to the comprehensive economic development strategy for the Fort Peck tribes can be found here.

Taylar Stagner is Yellowstone Public Radio's report for America Indigenous affairs reporter.

Taylar Stagner covers tribal affairs for Yellowstone Public Radio.