What is a Strategic Resource Plan?
In simple terms, a Strategic Resource Plan (SRP) is an idea of future growth and development often leading up to (or defined by) a 5-year, 10-year, and even 25-year plan. It can have several different names, but the overarching goal is to create a plan of action for the future and implement that design. Although the idea of an SRP is not something new, its use within Quapaw Nation is. Specifically, the way that members will be involved.
Through technological development, we are allowed more paths of communication than ever before. Not only do these paths make it easier to communicate, but also more cost-effective. Letters being mailed out to tribal members often cost thousands of dollars. Alternatively, interactions through social media, polls, and space for comment are most often free or, at the very least, very minimal in price.
Within the coming weeks, a survey will be launched with several ideas for the citizens of Quapaw Nation to consider. Many of those ideas will be looked at within this article. The survey results will be published in a later edition of the Quapaw Post magazine, along with the Business Committee's plan of action moving forward. In May, a town hall meeting was called in which members were allowed to voice their opinion on how the ARPA funds would be used. The SRP is a much larger version of that meeting built upon more in-depth conversations of potential future financial investments.
Say we want to build something; where will the funds come from?
In May of 2021, the tribe received $27 million for their first portion of the ARPA funds. Funds were made available to help tribal nations address the devastating impact of Covid-19 through the Cares act of 2020 and ARPA later on. Quapaw Nation has disbursed more money per tribal member than any other tribe in Oklahoma to date. Nearly half of the original $27 million from ARPA ($13.25 million) made its way to tribal members through direct payments in May of this year. A second round of ARPA funds, also totaling $27 million, now gives Quapaw Nation approximately $40 million dollars to work with. There are, of course, what the government considers "suitable" uses of the funds. As mentioned in past BC meetings, the majority of these funds are not meant to be disbursed to individual members. Instead, the federal government mandates these funds must be used to build tribal infrastructure and invest in initiatives that strengthen tribal self-governance.
Quapaw Nation recently unveiled a plan to renovate the tribal grounds, which proposed to remodel the old longhouse, the bathrooms, and several other sections of the grounds. The funding for this project will likely come from the ARPA funds. If tribal nations decide not to use certain funds in a way the government mandates, those funds must be sent back by the deadlines given.
So, no more distributions?
The stipulations on everything those funds can be used for aren't entirely known; currently, we only have the interim rules that Secretary-Treasurer Barker shared with the Quapaw Post. (Unfortunately, we are limited to space in the magazine, but the interim rules will be uploaded to the Quapaw Post website for further review by all QN members). Many tribal nations located within the boundaries of the United States made at least one direct payment to their members, but there's not much information available on whether any tribes have done a second disbursement. Some tribes have begun breaking ground on their infrastructure projects while others are launching economic development ventures. Some tribes just recently released a direct payment, other tribal nations are still discussing the idea of distribution. If the Federal government has cemented those guidelines, they haven't shared them openly and most assuredly haven't published them through any public domain. It's fair to assume that those rules are still under review, with tribal leaders having a good idea of what will be allowed and most just in the planning stages of their views on growth and developing further prosperity within their nations. The SRP is the Quapaw Nation's way of including their citizens in developing that plan. Without further ado, let's move through some of the ideas.
There are several different visions of what a rehabilitation center could provide, but truthfully, it could fulfill all those visions in different phases and possibly other buildings. It's probably best to touch on each idea and why it may be important to achieve within Quapaw Nation.
Oklahoma has a higher incarceration rate per 100,000 citizens than the countries of the United Kingdom, Portugal, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, and Mexico combined, and as of 2019 ranked 45th (out of 50) in education, according to a study published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. While some lawmakers and politicians fail to see the correlation between lack of education and criminality, Quapaw Nation could begin implementing its plan to change those statistics.
Something that has impacted Quapaw Nation (along with most areas across the country) has been the drug epidemic. While Quapaw Nation currently offers outpatient services, we do not have inpatient services. The cost of inpatient rehab ranges anywhere from $6,000 - $60,000. There are grant programs to help continue funding a project such as this in the future.
An inpatient rehab center helps address those currently using, but it doesn't help to dissuade future use or users. A youth center would provide young people with a safe space to grow and develop healthy habits while possibly addressing adolescent mental health. According to drugfree.org, two of the top five reason children turn to drugs is boredom and self-medication/escape. Most other reasons listed were just reiterations of those two things. Having a youth center may not be a cure-all, but it could help slow the spread of the drug epidemic we currently face.
The ultimate goal is for all tribal nations to become self-reliant. Part of that process is defining the way law and order are to be handled. In the last issue of the Quapaw Post, we discussed some of the ramifications of McGirt, but the only sure thing as of today is that we know pretty much nothing. The current DA for Ottawa County has essentially stopped prosecuting offenders that are Native-American in descent, and the Federal authorities (in many cases) refuse to carry that obligation. It seems as though a jail is integral in the goal of self-sustainability.
An elder care facility could also be thrown into this same mix of ideas as we must have a space available to care for those who can no longer care for themselves. Elders have spent the majority of their lives helping mend the minds of the coming generations. We can do our part in upholding the teachings of our ancestors by ensuring our elders are always cared for. Unfortunately, father time catches up to all of us. There was a point in the recent past that Quapaw Nation had the opportunity to purchase the Quapaw Care center. Although we passed up the opportunity to purchase that property previously, there may be future opportunities in this area. With ARPA, we have the chance to ensure our elders spend their twilight years as comfortable as technology and funding allows.
There's no greater gift than that of our natural resources: water, air, food. Moving towards more green energy solutions would prove costly at first but save millions in the future. There's also the idea of doing our part to take care of the space provided to us. We ensure a better future for generations to come as we clean up the decades of waste left here by others. At some point, this will have to be prioritized, so the question becomes why not now?
In recent years, solar farms have grown popular and considerably less expensive. In June 2015, Solar Star, the largest solar farm in the world, was completed in California. The solar farm has approximately 1.7 million panels and takes up over 13 square kilometers in Kern and Los Angeles Counties, California. The entire project generates 579 MW of energy which is enough to power 255,000 homes. So what does a project like this cost? Frankly, way more than we'd ever want to spend (2.5 billion US dollars) but also way more energy than we'd ever need. A system created by Quapaw Nation could benefit Quapaw Nation by taking over the energy needs of a Property the size of DCR, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars monthly or the housing needs of our reservation. Of course, there are many more ways to incorporate green energy into Quapaw Nation, such as wind power, geothermal, and bioenergy. The Sky is the limit in terms of renewable resources.
Housing Community/Apartment Complex
The saying goes, "There's one thing God doesn't make more of – that's land."
Quapaw Nation could instead focus on building up all of its future housing plans with that saying in mind. While several markets are expected to come crashing back to normalcy sooner rather than later, one that is believed to continue to rise is the cost to rent. Many tribal nations located throughout Oklahoma have begun an aggressive approach in staffing their many open positions and have since raised their minimum wage to go after prospective employees competitively. While Quapaw Nation is also entertaining similar ideas, many tribal members wonder how they will continue to afford to pay their rent. Across the United States, rent has skyrocketed by over nine percent, three times the typical yearly average increase. Building affordable housing would help relieve that.
Another idea would be community housing. This idea would require a more extensive land base and potentially be more expensive in the long run, but not everyone is suited for apartment life. Apartments lack privacy, something many people need for their sanity. We've all experienced those loud or nosey neighbors, or perhaps we were that individual at one time in our life. A housing community also attracts business and can feature several amenities, such as a park, throughout.
Quapaw Nation would not be the first Tribal Nation to grow its housing development. 2020 saw several nations step up to deal with the disproportionate numbers of homeless Native Americans in the United States. The Pascua Yaqui took 40 acres of land and built 50 single-family homes in August of 2020, which carried a price tag of $19.5 million. In May of 2021, the Cowichan Tribe used $4 million to build 32 multiplex homes. The significant difference in price amounts to the type of homes, land base, material cost (based on area), and other mitigating factors. Those of us living comfortably inside our homes should consider that we or someone we love could just as easily be on the outside looking in. A program such as this would enable all tribal members a level playing field.
Tech School/College Partnership
Partnering with a particular college or tech school to offer lower (potentially free) scholarships to tribal members would benefit the members, community, and play some role in things mentioned in this article. Most of these things don't particularly help "every" member, but as mentioned earlier, there will be rules to how these funds can be used, and more often than not, the funds are expected to benefit the reservation as a whole. You can't exactly pay for everyone's college tuition, but you can partner with a particular college. Miami Nation tribal members can obtain a free degree from Miami University in Ohio. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be an option for online certification currently, but perhaps even that could be worked out in the future.
Some might feel that College isn't for them, but instead, they want to learn other valuable skills. Maybe they want to know about plumbing, carpentry, electricity, or other valuable skills that don't require formal education but rather training that can be utilized through various career pathways.
Quapaw Nation leadership has also dedicated its resources to helping employees further their education through reimbursement programs. At Downstream Casino and Resort, tribal members that have served at least a year in their position and are willing to sign a two-year agreement will see their educations fully paid for. The Business Committee is pushing for that throughout the government side and other entities as well.
Building A Stronger Community
Several opportunities exist for Quapaw Nation in terms of business growth. The idea of building a grocery store in Quapaw has been mentioned several times, but it comes down to acquiring the land in town to do it. Other plans that have been floated around include a breakfast diner right off the interstate, a bank, a trucking company, and a drive-in theatre, but all of these ideas have something to offer Quapaw Nation. While some of the ideas mentioned above are more family and community-oriented, others would have a more significant financial impact on the nation. A bank, for instance, could lead to lending opportunities to the members who wouldn't typically have those same opportunities. The trucking industry is experiencing astronomical growth and is expected to continue on that trajectory as demand for goods continues to grow. A grocery store is an idea that would improve community relations and would also offer job opportunities to high school students, leading to a decrease in harmful extra-curricular activities. The same could be said for a drive-in theatre.
In the coming weeks, online polls will be added to our social media. A survey will also be mailed to those upon request. These polls will be introduced into a final survey that will be digitally available to members through the tribal site, the Quapaw Post site, and our Ogahpah page on Facebook. Once those results come in, they will be shared with the Business Committee and published in a subsequent article.