Published October 1, 1996 | October 1996 issue
I recently spent the summer as a Community Affairs intern at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. I'm now entering my last year of college at the University of Minnesota-Morris, where I'm majoring in business management and minoring in economics and music.
I was hired to work primarily on the Pine Ridge banking and community development initiative, which deals with economic development and housing possibilities on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota. Problems such as housing shortages and a stagnant or nonexistent economy typically plague Indian reservations and Pine Ridge is no exception. To deal with the problems on Pine Ridge, the Federal Reserve Bank plans to work with community and business leaders on and near the reservation to establish community development goals and ways to work together to achieve those goals.
However, the Fed needed an accurate assessment of the conditions on the reservation, so I researched housing, insurance and economic development on reservations. By reading reports about tribal economic development, I learned why many of these types of efforts have been unsuccessful and how they could be redirected for more positive results. I also learned about housing programs that are available specifically for Native Americans, and I conducted a study on the availability of insurance on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. I was even able to coordinate and attend meetings on two Indian reservations in northern Minnesota where I could apply ideas pertaining to economic development and housing.
This endeavor turned out to be quite a match for me because I was born and raised on the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota, where I'm also an enrollee in the White Earth Band of Chippewa. As you can imagine, I immediately saw the applicability of this initiative.
My internship at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis was a very satisfying experience because I was able to get a taste of the business world. I worked 40-hour work weeks and received better training and pay than I would have had I worked a summer job on my reservation. For any student, getting paid to use one's mind and learn is a welcome scenario.
For my family and the culture I represent, every professional step I take is groundbreaking. I hope not only to leave a discernible trail, but to assist others who share my interest in community development to follow it.
Stephen Turner, a senior at the University of Minnesota-Morris, recently performed an internship in the Community Affairs Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. His internship was coordinated though the INROADS program, whose goal is career development for talented minority students.