MazaCoin: Native American Cryptocurrency

After suffering from centuries of intrusion and isolation, Native American reservations face some of the highest poverty and unemployment rates within the coastal borders of the United States. While these tribal lands remain steadfastly committed to political and spiritual autonomy, they must confront the increasingly daunting task of survival that the modern marketplace has presented. Payu Harris is one person who believes that indigenous tradition need not come with such financial hardship. In fact, the Lakota-activist just developed MazaCoin, the “first sovereign national crypto-coin,” which the Oglala Sioux Tribe Office of Economic Development just instituted as the Oglala Lakota’s national currency (Hamill). MazaCoin supporters anticipate the crypto-coin to stimulate the economy of the tribal nation as well as provide greater opportunity to participate in the global marketplace. While developing the digital currency, Harris deeply considered how the Native American’s unique socioeconomic conditions would affect its structure, purpose, and future growth. His conclusions led to features of the coin which include but are not limited to: its unrivaled environmental friendliness, the range of hardware that can be used to mine, its ‘spiritual’ artwork, and the initial “two-phase pre-mine” that will be used as grant money to stimulate the economy and also act as a “national reserve” (MazaCoin).

The MazaCoin project not only uses digital currencies as a means to improve quality of life, but also employs humanity as a tool to reform the crypto-currency movement for the mainstream and the individual. According to a Bloomberg study, the majority of Americans haven’t heard of Bitcoin before, and according to my own anecdotal evidence, those who have don’t think it’s up to much good (Mims). Rather than contemplating the meticulously crafted ideology and mechanics behind Bitcoin’s inception, most people only know Bitcoin by its coverage in the mass media, whether through coverage about the Silk Road seizure or recent Mt. Gox bankruptcy. These events surely deserve mainstream media coverage, but the persistent revelry in e-currency trash talk has enabled ignorance at the expense of positive and innovative conversation about Bitcoin’s application to remittance payments, the small business industry, democracy, etc. As the Lakota nation, which is perhaps farthest place from the depths of the digital underground, embraces the potential of digital currencies, mainstream society may take this opportunity to reconsider their oppositional stance towards crypto-coins and engage with their potential rather than their failure.

However, the mainstream media is not wholly to blame for the public misunderstanding of Bitcoin. The distributed peer-to-peer network protocol is complicated and not all that easy to just dive into without having concrete understanding or proper hardware. The MazaCoin team recognizes the technological and educational privilege that most crypto-currency require, and attempts to mitigate these barriers for entry through the Mazacoin protocol and community outreach. For instance, MazaCoin has made its coin far easier to mine than Bitcoin, enabling users to employ inexpensive hardware to mine and hold digital currency. Harris and others also engage directly with the community, hosting workshops that will equip the natives with skills and hardware to properly use the crypto-currency. Mainstream crypto currencies should adopt the unhierarchical ethic that backs MazaCoin in order to truly realize its democratic pursuits. Without properly educating and enabling the use of digital currencies for all socioeconomic tiers of society, we reaffirm the private and privileged economic system that these coins set out to abolish.

 

Works Cited

Hamill, Jasper. “The Battle of Little Bitcoin: Native American Tribe Launches Its Own Cryptocurrency.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 27 Feb. 2014. Web. 11 Mar. 2014. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasperhamill/2014/02/27/the-battle-of-little-bitcoin-native-american-tribe-launches-its-own-cryptocurrency/>.

“Home.” Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Mar. 2014. <http://www.oglalalakotanation.org/oln/Home.html>.

“MazaCoin.” MazaCoin. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2014. <http://www.mazacoin.org/>.

Mims, Christopher. “Most Americans don’t know what bitcoin is, and that’s good news for speculators.” Quartz. N.p., 13 Dec. 2013. Web. 11 Mar. 2014. <http://qz.com/157505/most-americans-dont-know-what-bitcoin-is-and-thats-good-news-for-speculators/>.