The Spokane Tribe worked with the Choctaw Tribe of Oklahoma to get language into the farm bill strengthening Promise Zones on tribal lands.
The Farm Bill passed by Congress last week codifies that federal agencies are required by law to honor Promise Zone commitments on tribal lands, said Mike Tedesco, the tribe’s executive director.
Through the Promise Zones Initiative, the federal government pledged to work strategically with local leaders to boost economic activity and job growth, improve educational opportunities, reduce crime and leverage private investment to improve the quality of life in the zones.
The Spokane Tribe is one four tribes with a Promise Zone designation. The Spokane Reservation, plus land the tribe holds in trust in Airway Heights and Chewelah, was named a Promise Zone in 2016. The poverty rate among the tribe’s 2,085 members is about 33 percent, and the unemployment rate is 26 percent.
The tribe’s goal is to strengthen its institutions through the Promise Zone, including increased employment opportunities through tribal corporations, attracting private sector investments, expanding educational opportunities, reducing violent crime and increasing access to affordable housing.
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