Fostering a philosophical revolution for renewing indigenous economies that allows communities and cultures to flourish.



Restoring Tribal Economies

Colonial-era policies and paternalistic attitudes continue to restrict economic activity on reservations and most indigenous economies remain dependent on the federal government. 

Despite its very real troubles, the future of Indian Country is not bleak. There are bright spots. Throughout North America, indigenous leaders and entrepreneurs are innovating to lift their communities out of poverty. What’s especially remarkable about these bright spots is that they are examples of people and communities overcoming huge obstacles to close the institutional gap.

Read more at Defining Ideas.

Unlocking the Wealth of Indian Nations

The chapters in this volume document the involvement of indigenous people in market economies long before European contact, provide evidence on how the wealth of Indian Nations has been held hostage to bureaucratic red tape, and explains how their wealth can be unlocked through self-determination and sovereignty.

Although the title of this book suggests its focus is on American Indian Nations, the lack of property rights and a stable rule of law applies to indigenous peoples around the world, not just those in North America. The chapter on Māori tribal economies goes beyond North America and should serve as a call for scholars to consider how institutional adaptation allowed indigenous peoples to thrive in the past and how the lack of such adaption prevents them from utilizing their rightful human and physical resources. All of the other chapters provide a template for how indigenous resources can be unlocked to generate wealth for their owners. If this volume is successful for stimulating further scholarship and, more importantly, stimulating a spontaneous evolution of institutional change led by indigenous people themselves, it will have been a success.

Available from Rowman & Littlefield

New Indigenous Economies

Institutional economics provides a lens for better understanding how “old” (pre-European contact) indigenous economies worked, how “colonial” indigenous economies usurped indigenous jurisdictions and governance rules, and how “new” indigenous economies might be renewed to help indigenous peoples pull themselves out of dependency and poverty.

The foundation for new indigenous economies begins with a growing body of research starting with the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development led by Joseph Kalt and Stephen Cornell and continuing most recently with scholarship exemplified in Unlocking the Wealth of Indian Nations (2016) and the open textbook from the Tulo Centre, Building a Competitive First Nation Investment Climate. The emphasis is on renewing indigenous economies because the historical evidence shows that many indigenous groups had institutions that sustained cultural and economic development. Over the past 150 years, however, those institutions have been eroded mainly by top-down constraints imposed by federal governments. Renewing those institutions is the key to unlocking the wealth of Indian Nations.

Forthcoming from Terry L. Anderson

Ngāi Tahu Research Centre

Kā Waimaero, the Ngāi Tahu Research Centre (NTRC) was founded for the purpose of being a leader in indigenous scholarship and to provide a centre for the intellectual capital and development of Ngāi Tahu, the principal Māori iwi of the southern region of New Zealand. NTRC was established in August 2011 as a joint venture between Ngāi Tahu and the University of Canterbury. 

The Ngāi Tahu Research Centre is best defined by reference to its dual mission statements, which are:

Mission Statements

  • To create intellectual capital and leadership able to lead and support tribal development.

  • To establish the Ngāi Tahu Research Centre as the foremost indigenous Research Centre in New Zealand and the Pacific with strong links to the principal institutions that lead indigenous scholarship and development.

Explore Ngāi Tahu's research.

Tulo Centre of Indigenous Economics

The Tulo Centre is committed to developing original research and curriculum that supports accredited training and greater participation of indigenous populations in market opportunities. The Tulo Centre works with its partners to conduct research that supports curriculum for new courses related to Resource Development Interest Based Negotiations, Demographics, Information Management, First Nation Law and Economics, Resource Development Economics, Financial Management, First Nation Fiscal Relationships and Public Finance.

The Tulo Centre focuses on research to contribute to the knowledge of economic development for Indigenous governments. The research projects look at best practices to improve markets on indigenous lands, case studies from across Canada that encompass diverse circumstances and other projects that contribute to the understanding of building legal and administrative systems to support investment on First Nation land. 

Explore the Tulo Centre's research.