The Oglala Lakota Nation has become the first native tribe to adopt its own cryptocurrency, a move the tribe hopes will help alleviate poverty, foster unity and assert tribal sovereignty.
The digital currency, called MazaCoin, was adopted as the official currency of the Lakota Nation after an agreement with the Oglala Sioux Tribe Office of Economic Development, establishing a strategic reserve for the tribe.
Now that it has been adopted, MazaCoin is faced with an uphill battle to become a valuable and stable currency, as well as one that avoids the U.S. government's increased scrutiny of digital coinage.
The Oglala Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, home to the Lakota Nation, is one of the most impoverished areas in America, with average yearly salaries of less than $8,000.
MazaCoin's creator, developer and Native American activist Payu Harris, pictured below, has high hopes for the currency's ability to tackle poverty.
“This is a paradigm shift for tribal economies,” he said. “This could be the next buffalo.”
Harris also thinks MazaCoin will give the Lakota a sense of national identity and independence. Speaking to The Verge, Harris said, "What we’re trying to do with MazaCoin is just spark something to get us out of this cycle of victimhood."