Tribal COVID-19 precautions hurting businesses on South Dakota reservations
November 10, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated small businesses on Native American reservations in South Dakota as tribal councils have mandated business closures, banned gatherings and told tourists to stay away to prevent COVID-19 from spreading in their vulnerable communities.
Tribal governments took aggressive action against the spread of COVID-19 early on during the pandemic. Some reservations closed their borders to visitors, and each of the reservations has temporarily closed businesses at times and banned large gatherings. While such actions were deemed necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19, they also dramatically slowed economic activity.
Privately owned small businesses in Native American communities across South Dakota have reported losing tens of thousands of dollars since the pandemic began. They also have had a difficult time accessing federal pandemic relief funds. Many business owners are worried their businesses will not survive the winter.