Job creation in Lakota country

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sat Nov 15 07:32:24 MST 2003

NY Times, November 15, 2003
Indians Now Disdain a Farm Once Hailed for Giving Tribe Jobs

ROSEBUD INDIAN RESERVATION, S. D., Nov. 8 — Seven miles west of the tiny 
town of White River, on a snow-covered rise surrounded by bluffs and 
valleys, 24 metal-roofed barns create an isolated barracks for tens of 
thousands of fattening hogs.

When a pig production company called Sun Prairie built the barns on these 
tribal trust lands four years ago, the Lakota Sioux who live here on the 
nearby reservation said they believed the barns would bring good-paying 
jobs to a reservation where 7 of 10 people are unemployed.

The jobs did come. But now some tribal members who have worked at the farm 
say they wonder at what cost. They describe a company that discriminates 
against Indians, paying them less than white workers and at times demanding 
they work extra hours for no pay. They say dust and ammonia emitted from 
fetid pools of manure that sometimes accumulate inside the barns made them 
cough until their ribs hurt and made breathing a struggle, even months 
after leaving their jobs.

Workers have also made videotapes of the conditions inside the barns 
showing animals so tightly packed in their pens that strong hogs begin to 
cannibalize the weak, eating off tails and ears. Other pigs are shown with 
soccer-ball-sized abscesses hanging from their bellies. During some weeks, 
hundreds of pigs die, some employees say, from mistreatment and disease.

"They are abusing the land, abusing the Indian people and paying them 
nothing for their work," said Alvin Covey, a tribal member who worked at 
the farm for six months this year until July. "All they really care about 
is getting their money."


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