With the infamous anti-pipeline protest camps now reduced to a muddy pile of garbage, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is coming to grips with some of the harsh realities of their month’s long crusade against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
According to the Teton Times, the closure of Highway 1806 and local boycotts of the casino has resulted in a near 50 percent decline in revenue since the start of the anti-pipeline protests last fall. The Prairie Knights Casino took in nearly $14 million in 2015, but dropped to $8 million in 2016.
“It’s like it’s fallen off a cliff,” said the tribe’s chief financial officer Jerome Long Bottom. “When the bridge was shut off, the numbers just plummeted.”
Longbottom recently told the Bismarck Tribune that the tribe will soon face tough financial choices about what programs to fund. The tribal council has used $3.2 million from an anti-pipeline fundraising campaign to supplement the lost casino revenue, but those funds are quickly drying up.
According to Elliott Rhoades, a former vice chairman of the tribe, programs that serve some of the most vulnerable populations heavily rely on funding from the casino and as a result could bear the brunt of future budget cuts.
“Due to the DAPL protests, a $4-$5 million Casino Revenue shortfall will have far-reaching and catastrophic affects on the people of Standing Rock,” Elliott Rhoades, a former vice chairman of the tribe.
“Services will be cut, lay-offs will happen, and money that is needed to heat homes, feed families, and repair housing are going to take direct hits—whole families are affected when the bread-winners of their families are no longer employed.”
In the end, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe allowed a fringe group of environmentalists to overrun their own logic; a mistake that will likely take years, if not decades to fully recover from.