Dakotas Tribal Leaders Pitching Pot As Economic Opportunity

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Marijuana companies in California and Colorado have tabbed prominent American Indian leaders from the Dakotas to help prod tribes across the nation into the pot business.

Tex Hall, the former chairman of the oil-rich Three Affiliated Tribes, and Robert Shepherd, former chairman of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe in northeastern South Dakota and southeastern North Dakota, are trying to recruit and assist tribes in producing high-grade marijuana products.

“Those who want to get in early are the ones who will really succeed,” said Shepherd, the tribal relations officer for Denver-based Monarch America Inc.

With 566 federally recognized Indian tribes in the United States, the potential revenue for marijuana businesses is big, even though many native leaders remain skeptical, Shepherd said. Elders especially are wary.

“It’s hard to deny the medical properties in cannabis,” Shepherd said. “But the federal government has done a good job of portraying it as...

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