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Crow Tribe hopes to have its own currency

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The director of the Crow Tribe's business development department hopes creating a tribal currency will spur tribal members to spend money on the reservation and encourage the creation of more businesses.

The tribe is minting copper, silver and gold coins called "scouts" to serve as its sovereign currency, The Billings Gazette ( reported Friday.

Ceivert LaForge, director of the tribe's LLC Department, has been working on the project since March with Eddie Allen, director of the Dallas-based Sovereign Economics. The company's website says it helps "nations, states, communities and groups" establish their own currencies.

The tribe plans to introduce the new currency Friday evening during the Crow Fair powwow.

To help finance the launching of the Crow currency, the tribe commissioned 1,000 one-ounce silver medallions commemorating the Battle of the Little Bighorn. They are not currency and are being sold for $50 each, mainly to coin collectors.

The tribe hopes to introduce the currency gradually, possibly by having tribal employees receive some of their pay in scouts, with the proportion of Crow currency increasing over time.

The Crow scouts will include six coins — two copper, two silver and two gold — each stamped with the image of a different Crow chief.

The tribe will sell one-tenth ounce silver coins on Friday for $4.50. They are valued at $5. Copper coins valued at $1 were supposed to be available Friday as well, but they are not yet finished.

LaForge said the tribe is working to create an Office of Currency to oversee the monetary system.

The Sovereign Economics website lists several examples of groups and nations that have established their own currencies, including the Lakota Nation in South Dakota, the Polynesian Kingdom of Atooi and the American Redoubt, a group of survivalists who hope to set up a "safe haven" in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and eastern Washington and Oregon.

LaForge said he hopes the "scouts" are more successful on the Crow reservation than the Lakota currency has been. He said it is still little used on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, six years after it was first issued.