The Oglala Sioux and Lower Brule Sioux tribes were awarded over $100,000 in grants Thursday to conduct a feasibility study toward future development projects.

The South Dakota tribes were two of 10 selected to receive a portion of $500,000 in grants from the Office of Indian Economic Development's Native American Business Development Institute (NABDI) program.

NABDI awards fund feasibility studies that weigh the viability and risks of an economic development project, opportunity, enterprise or business or the practicality of a technology a Tribe may choose to pursue. The studies may be used to determine the likelihood of success for businesses in specific American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

"Native American Business Development Institute grants empower Tribes to make informed decisions about their economic futures,” said Bryan Newland, assistant secretary for Indian Affairs. “Tribes will use these grants to explore opportunities to further economic self-sufficiency and Tribal self-determination. Indian Affairs and the Department use these grants to support them in achieving these goals.”

The Oglala Sioux Tribe was awarded $65,000 to be delegated toward a feasibility study for a future Crazy Horse Scenic Byway project, and the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe was awarded $48,000 for a feasibility study for an aquaponics project.

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In 2019, the Oglala Sioux Tribe sought designation of over 300 miles of South Dakota roadway to be designated as the Crazy Horse Scenic Byway.

South Dakota currently has four state-sanctioned scenic byways, all of which are located in the Black Hills and Badlands, and two federally-designated scenic byways — one stretching from North Dakota to Nebraska, crossing through five reservations, and one looping through the southeastern Black Hills.

The Crazy Horse Scenic Byway would run from the Crazy Horse Memorial in the west, run down through Kyle, and connect to Interstate 90 near Kadoka. A loop of the byway would swing down to the city of Pine Ridge, and arms would extend from the byway to connect the Ben Reifel Visitor Center and the Yellow Bear Canyon Spur.

Tribal representatives did not return calls requesting more detail about their projects.

Grants were awarded on the basis of a proposal’s potential to create jobs for Tribal members and stimulate economies in Native American communities.

Other tribes that received awards are putting the grants toward projects such as gas station construction, buffalo production plants and food sovereignty initiatives.