Press "Enter" to skip to content

Pine Ridge Grocery Store Takes Advantage of Non-Compete Clause?

Debra White Plume says her granddaughter was sickened by old meat sold by the Sioux Nation Shopping Center, the only grocery store on the Pine Ridge Reservation. In commentary on Censored News, White Plume says the problem is part capitalist amorality and part corporate socialism:

The Sioux Nation Shopping Center has been here for about 40 years. It is located on land and in a building owned by the Oglala Sioux Tribe, who leases the land and the building to the Hi-way 20 Investment, Inc. of San Diego, CA, and has signed a contract allowing the corporation to operate a store. The lease is renewable every five years. The contract runs on a 25-year basis. According to OST documents, Aaron Cohn is the Corporation President. Cohn must have a tribal business license to operate, which is issued by the OST Revenue Dept, directed by tribal member Bob Palmier.

...Discussion emerged about the store pulling in $10 million annual profit, the tribe receiving about $110,000. Anyone who shops there can guess huge profit is gained from extraordinarily high prices combined with keeping operation costs low by paying minimum wage and withholding worker benefits. Through such deliberate business practices, and their contract clause of no competition within a three mile radius of the store, Cohn's corporation has seized the reins of profit-making to the maximum, and is enjoying the millions of dollars pried from our hands in the poorest county of the United States. Seeking exclusion of the store and meat managers from our Homelands is still an option, they will have to leave the Pine Ridge [emphasis mine; Debra White Plume, "Speak Truth to Power: The Meat Is Spoiled and That Is Not OK With Us," Censored News, 2012.05.17].

If out-of-state trading-post colonizers have been poisoning Pine Ridge customers and overcharging them to boot, one would think the Oglala Sioux Tribe council could find cause to nullify their contract with Cohn and offer new terms, including having to face competition just like any other business. Or Pine Ridge could follow the Rosebud's apparently successful model, drop Cohn's contract completely, and start a tribally owned grocery store.

Either go capitalist or go socialist; the current mix gives Cohn the advantages and consumers the diss.