One out of four Native Americans continues to live in poverty, despite the vast casino wealth on some reservations.
Studies have shown that a number of factors, including lack of infrastructure, isolation, unstable governments, federal bureaucracy and a poorly educated work force, contribute to an atmosphere that has stifled job creation.
But Congress has done little to help Native Americans overcome those obstacles. In fact, some say that many of the economic gains on Indian reservations have occurred in spite of intervention by the federal government.
Now, a Republican House committee chairman wants to order a new study to figure out how to spark more business development on reservations.
Native American leaders, however, want action.
"If it’s just a study that provides information, it’s not going to go anywhere," Joe Garcia, president of the National Congress of American Indians, said at a recent congressional hearing.
Even so, Garcia and others support the proposal by California Rep. Richard Pombo — glad that lawmakers are, at least, talking about the issue.
Pombo, whose committee oversees Native American issues, wants Congress to establish a study group to look at establishing an Indian-owned Tribal Development Corp.