The Dakota Western Story
The Great Plains of northeastern South Dakota are home to the Dakota people of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate. Here on the prairie stands Dakota Western Corporation, a success story set on the Lake Traverse Sioux Indian Reservation.
Dakota Western reflects today’s business culture and standards. The 25,000 square foot manufacturing plant was constructed in 1988. Another 25,000 square feet added on in 1997 doubled the capacity to 50,000. Equipment is modern. A skilled labor force, competitive pricing and quality control contribute to an enterprise that typifies the best of small business America.
Dakota Western was established in 1988 as part of the Tribe’s aggressive economic and industrial development program. A primary goal of this program has been the creation of meaningful employment opportunities for tribal members and residents of northeastern South Dakota.
Poverty and lack of opportunity have been a way of life for most of the nation’s Indian reservations. The unemployment rate at the Lake Traverse Reservation has historically been well above 50%. Unfortunately, public assistance has been the mainstay for the majority of the population.
Moving people from welfare to work is a goal nearly everyone embraces. But it is also and enormous challenge. Individuals with limited work experience must be trained in job skills and productive work habits. Dakota Western has achieved success in this difficult area. It provides entry-level positions, training and personnel support for unskilled workers. Advancement opportunities reward effort and experience.
Today, Dakota Western has a total of 40 employees. Of those employed, 80% are Native American, working in all aspects of the business, including management, marketing, production, quality control and packaging. That strength coupled with the fact that the company is an equal opportunity employer, creates a production atmosphere reflected in the company’s service to its customers.
Dakota Western supplies customers in the government, private industry and service business communities. These customers receive and deserve a quality product at a competitive price.
Dakota Western’s customers are also contributing to the reconstruction of a work-based economy at the Lake Traverse Reservation. Each time they purchase Dakota Western products, they help ensure that members of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe and our non-native partners will continue to know the pride that comes with an earned paycheck.