Thursday, September 30, 2004

A New-Style Indian Village Rises From the Dust


Progress has a way of backfiring on the Winnebago tribe of Nebraska. Over the past decade tribal businesses have flourished where poverty had long been the rule. Many of the 2,600 people living amid the rolling green and tan fields of the 120,000-acre Winnebago Indian Reservation have found jobs and begun to make decent money. But some of those same people, finding that their higher incomes made them ineligible for public housing, ended up leaving the reservation because there was no place else there for them to live.

The tribe's most prominent business leader, Lance Morgan, figured it would literally take a new village to bring the tribe together again.

So far, Ho-Chunk Village, just north of town, is a mostly blank slate on which the tribe maps its destiny. A grid of chalk-colored streets is forming on a 38-acre slope of oat grass. Besides an office building and a new Dollar General store near the main road, there are 4 houses at the property's back edge, the first of 110 planned.