He created an indigenous digital currency system. The dream is still alive.

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Early on, Harris set aside 10 million coins as a reserve for a Lakota development fund. Apart from the reserve, little technically distinguishes MazaCoin from Bitcoin, making it a bit of a tough sell as an attractive “alternative coin.” But Harris isn’t looking to woo a wide range of investors. He says he didn’t even need the skyrocketing valuations seen early on; he just wants to build a system that can bring value to natives, starting with the Lakota on Pine Ridge and expanding to other tribes and reservations from there.

MazaCoin’s challenges today are very different from those encountered a few years ago. Harris and his team realized that to establish a national currency, the tribal council needed to have the ability to set monetary policy. “I was talking about the sovereignty aspect,” he says, “but having our own monetary structure and a dynamic, comprehensive monetary policy is how we’re going to build our economy, that’s how we’re going to build our markets. , and that’s how we’re going to build for the future—that’s how we’re going to move away from federal funding. Period.”

Tribes have some freedom from US regulations, which means new policies targeting crypto might not affect MazaCoin.

Currently, Indigenous nations use the US dollar, which makes them dependent on policies set by the Federal Reserve, Treasury, and Congress. But as “country-dependent” nations, the tribes have some freedom from US regulations, which means new policies targeting crypto might not affect MazaCoin. Harris hopes this isolation could make MazaCoin more attractive in the near future, given the renewed federal appetite for crypto regulation.

In the meantime, Harris has found other uses for all of his technology. He worked on the symbolization of natural resources owned by the tribe, such as unmined gold in the Black Hills or coal reserves that could be commoditized. Harris also stores tribal treaties, documents, and historical assets on the blockchain to establish an indigenous recordkeeping system. For him, it’s about finding new ways to assert his sovereignty and put money back into the reserve.

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