It's not just identity, language, and song. It's about fundamental well-being and community, which includes economics.


to Nov 19

Indigenous Capital, Growth, and Property Rights: The Legacy of Colonialism

  • Hoover Institution at Stanford University (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

An Academic Research Workshop
Co-directed by
Terry L. Anderson, Hoover Institution Senior Fellow
Dominic Parker, University of Wisconsin Associate Professor

Capital investment and property rights are generally considered Western concepts exported in the era of European empire building, but pre-colonial evidence from Africa and the Americas suggest that capital investment and property rights are part of the human experience. Europeans assumed the societies they encountered in the Americas lacked the institutions and intellect necessary to fuel economic growth. Careful examination of pre-colonial and colonial societies, however, offer a different perspective—a perspective that sheds light on how indigenous people around the world can renew their economies from the ground up, rather than answering the “siren call of federal handouts, as Alvin “A.J.” Not-Afraid, Chairman of the Crow Tribe, puts it.

In launching “new institutional economics,” Douglass North (1960, 53) emphasized that the “major role of institutions in a society is to reduce uncertainty by establishing a stable structure to human interaction.” That formula seems simple, but the fact that many countries remain poor today suggests that stimulating the necessary capital investments is not so easy.

For this reason and by North’s definition of institutions, there can be no question that American Indians had both informal and formal rules that promoted capital investment and productivity prior to European contact. At the individual level, Indians used varying degrees of private ownership or control of assets for everything from household goods, to horses, to hunting and trapping territories, to land. They marked territories with stones and trees, their horses with paint, their arrows with coloring, all designed to say this is mine and not yours.

Given the rich institutional history of Native Americans, why has capital investment lagged on reservations and what will it take to rejuvenate capital investment today? Put another way, what were the property rights structures in pre-contact American Indian societies, what happened to the rule of law that secures property rights that encouraged capital investment, and what will it take to rekindle the rule of law and property rights among Indian tribes?

The workshop will have three components:

1) Capital investment and economic growth in “old indigenous economies”;
2) capital investment in “colonial indigenous economies”; and
3) revitalization of capital investment for “renewing indigenous economies.”

For each of the categories, the project will commission scholarly papers from various disciplines including economics, political science, law, and anthropology. Sessions will include papers focusing on:

  • Examples of pre-colonial capital investment and the institutions that encouraged investment and growth, emphasizing that American Indians invested in natural resources to improve productivity—e.g. clam gardens on the Pacific Northwest coast, fishing wheels and weirs on salmon streams, rock walls to channel bison over cliffs or into surrounds, and cultivated fields to grow crops, to mention a few.

  • Analysis of how colonial institutions, especially trusteeship retaining title to resources by the federal government, prevent tribes from holding the important stick allowing transferability of title, thwart capital investment today.

  • Case studies illuminating how tribes can and have overcome the constraints on capital investment and improved reservation economies by expanding their jurisdiction, Examples include gaming compacts, internet business transactions, and foregoing sovereign immunity.

Preliminary Agenda
November 18


“Reciprocity as a Form of Hypothecation: Indigenous Capital Markets”
D. Bruce Johnsen, George Mason University

10:00 AM BREAK

"The Politics of Indian Property Rights”
Ilia Murtazashvili, University of Pittsburgh

“The Missionary Imposition? The Long-run Effect of Indian Missions in the United States”
Donna Feir, Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank

12:45 PM LUNCH
“The Effect of Land Allotment on Native American Households During the Assimilation Era”
Christian Dippel and Dustin Frye

“The Costs of ‘Tenancy in Common’: Evidence from Indian Land Allotment”
Christian Dippel, Dustin Frye, and Bryan Leonard


“Bargaining for American Indian Water Rights”
Leslie Sanchez, Eric C. Edwards, and Bryan Leonard


November 19

”Are the Business Killing Trust Restrictions on Tribal Land Constitutional?”
Adam Crepelle, Southern University Law Center

“Comparative Secured Transactions Law and Renewing Indigenous Economies’ Access to Finance”
Dwight Newman, University of Saskatchewan

“Measuring Utilization Effect of Secured Transactions on Tribal Lands”
Marc L. Roark, Southern University Law Center

“Tribal Culture and Economic Prosperity: Complements or Substitutes?”
Dominic Parker, University of Wisconsin


The workshop is limited to a small group of scholars to ensure meaningful discussion of the papers. For more information, please contact Wendy Purnell:

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8:00 AM08:00

Workshop on Indigenous Property Rights and their Implication in Brazil

Sponsored by the Hoover Project on Renewing Indigenous Economies
, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and the Liberty to Grow Foundation

In 2018, we launched the Hoover Project on Renewing Indigenous Economies. It is aimed at studying the institutions around which indigenous peoples organized their economies prior to European contact, how colonialism has abandoned those institutions, and how the pre-contact institutions might serve as a foundation for renewing indigenous economies. To date, most of the Hoover Project has focused on the U.S., Canada, and New Zealand.

Now we have a small grant to expand the Hoover Project to include indigenous property rights in Brazil. To kick-start this effort, we plan to host a day-long workshop at the Hoover Institution's office in Washington, D.C. on April 29, 2019. The workshop will begin with a discussion of the Hoover Project followed by presentations that suggest how indigenous property rights and governance structures affect resource use in Brazil, and will conclude with a roundtable discussion of what additional research is necessary to renew indigenous economies in Brazil.


Indigenous Property Rights and Indigenous Prosperity
Terry L. Anderson, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and co-founder, Alliance for Renewing Indigenous Economies

Lessons from Studies of Indigenous Land Tenure in the Americas
Dominic Parker, associate professor, Department of Agricultural & Applied Economies Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Land Reform Policies and Resource Use in Brazil
Bernardo Mueller, professor of economics at the University of Brasília

Indigenous land rights and deforestation: Evidence from the Brazilian Amazon
Silke Heuser, Senior Evaluator, Independent Evaluation Group, World Bank

To further inform the discussion:

Normative Shifts in the Legal Landscape: Where are we? Where are we headed with Indigenous land rights?
Karol Boudreaux, Chief Program Officer, Landesa

This is an invitation-only roundtable discussion. If you would like more information, please contact Wendy Purnell:

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All Roads Lead to Chaco Canyon: 2nd Annual Conference
to Mar 15

All Roads Lead to Chaco Canyon: 2nd Annual Conference

Hosted by the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana & Southern University Law Center at the Coushatta Pavilion in Kinder, Louisiana

The 2nd annual All Roads Lead to Chaco Conference is centered on creating business opportunities and trade partnerships in Indian Country. Despite the large land masses of Indian reservations and the accompanying incentives such as the HUB Zone program, private entrepreneurs are often hesitant to invest in Indian Country. This conference will help business people understand the legal framework surrounding tribes and show them how to navigate the intricacies of doing business in Indian country. Further, it will suggest strategies that tribal leaders can use to make their reservations more attractive for private businesses. Leading experts will present on the following topics:

  • Historic Tribal Trade and Economic Practices

  • Nation Building

  • Creating Private Sector Economies on Reservations

  • Removing Barriers to Entrepreneurship in Indian Country

  • Inter-Tribal Trade

  • Tribal-State Business Partnerships

  • Business Transactions and Enforcing Contracts in Indian Country

  • Tribes and International Trade

Featured Speakers & Panelists:

  • Raymond Austin, Justice Emeritus, Navajo Nation Supreme Court

  • Adam Crepelle, Professor of Law, SULC

  • Joseph Austin, Attorney & CEO, OSA

  • Robert Miller, Professor of Law, Arizona State University

  • Stacy Leeds, Dean Emeritus, University of Arkansas School of Law

  • Bailey Walker, President, OK Indian Chamber of Commerce

  • Annetta Abbott, Past President, OK Indian Chamber of Commerce

  • Boyd Miller, Past President, OK Indian Chamber of Commerce

  • Marc Roark, Professor of Law

  • Rebecca Naragon, Economic Development Director, USET

  • Patrice Kunesh, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

  • Terry Anderson, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution at Stanford University

  • Colby Duren, Director of Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative

Register for the conference here.

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12:00 PM12:00

Unlocking Dead Capital for Indigenous People

The Hoover Institution hosts the inaugural Renewing Indigenous Economies Policy Symposium, featuring a keynote with Hernando de Soto on Tuesday, October 2, 2018 from 12:00pm - 1:30pm EST.

Last year, the Hoover Institution launched its Renewing Indigenous Economies Research Initiative to understand what institutions work best for local peoples, economies, and cultures. The annual Indigenous Economies policy symposium will update the D.C. community on what has been called a “renaissance in tribal self-governance” and an “economic civil rights movement.” This year's event will feature the founders of the Alliance for Renewing Indigenous Economies, an international group of scholars and tribal leaders dedicated to secure land rights, self-government, and fiscal independence for indigenous communities.

Lunch will be available beginning at 11:45 a.m.

12:00 PM: Welcome

Terry Anderson, John and Jean DeNault Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution

12:05 PM: Unlocking Dead Capital for Indigenous People

Hernando de Soto, President, Institute for Liberty and Democracy
Manny Jules, Chief Commissioner, First Nations Tax Commission   

1:30 PM: Adjourn

Members of the Press are encouraged to linger for interviews with tribal leaders and policymakers visiting from throughout the United States, Canada, and New Zealand.

For more information, please email

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to Oct 2

Indigenous Economies Policy Symposium

  • Hoover Institution in Washington (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

Removing Barriers to Economic Development and Entrepreneurship in Indian Country

Part 1: Policy Roundtable


  • To convene known policy allies.
  • To identify key areas for reform and create functional working groups to advance those reforms.


  • Tribal leaders and scholars focused on removing policy obstacles for renewed indigenous economies.
  • People in a position to advance policy reform

Part 2: Public Forum featuring Hernando de Soto


  • To articulate the Alliance mission and vision for the D.C. policy community.
  • To identify other potential policy allies.


D.C. policy makers, policy researchers, and journalists whose constituencies are
interested in economic development, civil rights, entrepreneurship, property
rights, indigenous communities, etc.

For more information, please contact Wendy Purnell:

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4:30 PM16:30

Why Indian Nations Fail by James Robinson

This year Senior Fellow Terry Anderson launched a Hoover project on “Renewing Indigenous Economies.” The project will undertake research showing how the ideas defining a free society are key to helping indigenous peoples, especially Native Americans, lift themselves out of poverty and free them from the wardship of the federal government. The program will host workshops where indigenous leaders can discuss how the research results can help them on a path to self-determination. (For a discussion of these ideas, see his article with Wendy Purnell in Defining Ideas.)

For the launch of the first tribal leaders forum, Professor James Robinson from the University of Chicago will present the keynote address on September 24, 2018. Drawing on his award winning, co-authored book, Why Nations Fail, Robinson will explain how different indigenous societies adapted their institutions over centuries, allowing them to survive and in many cases thrive. Robinson will discuss how governance structures thrust upon them by modern nation states have stifled this evolutionary process and led to economic stagnation for many indigenous economies. By understanding why indigenous nations have failed, indigenous societies can renew their cultures and their economies.

Robinson's lecture will be followed by comments from Te Maire Tau and Manny Jules.

Stauffer Auditorium
Hoover Institution at Stanford University
Monday, September 24th at 4:30 PM
Reception to follow.

Register for the event here.

For more information, please email

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to Sep 25

Tribal Leaders Forum

  • Hoover Institution at Stanford University (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

Fostering the Philosophical Revolution for Renewing Indigenous Economies

The purpose of the inaugural leadership forum is threefold:

  1. Gather tribal leaders and scholars working to rebuild tribal nations and renew indigenous economies;
  2. Share best practices from successful tribal leaders; and
  3. Prioritize the development of educational resources and workshops.

Presenters include:
Terry Anderson, Hoover Institution
Donna Feir, Center for Indian Country Development, Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank
Manny Jules, First Nations Tax Commission
Mark Podlasly, First Nations Financial Management Board
James Robinson, University of Chicago
Te Maire Tau, Ngāi Tahu Research Center

Scholars and indigenous leaders focused on establishing jurisdiction in tribal communities.

For more information, please contact Wendy Purnell:


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to Sep 22

Renewing Indigenous Economies Research Workshop

  • Hoover Institution at Stanford University (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

The purpose of this workshop is to explore how tribal governance structures, jurisdiction, property rights, and the rule of law integrate into a fabric for stimulating indigenous economies. The main focus will be on indigenous economies in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia because these four countries share a history of British colonization and have thus inherited a common institutional framework within which tribal economies operate.

We have commissioned original research in the areas of economics, political science, and law.

"From Communal to Private Property Rights: Evidence from the Dawes Act and Native Americans"
Christian Dippel, University of California Los Angeles
Dustin Frye, Vassar College   

"Historical Treaty-Making and Long-Term Economic Prospertity of Indigenous Peoples"
Donna Feir, University of Victoria, Canada and Minneapolis Federal Reserve

"Land Tenure and Adaptation on Indian Reservations: Measuring the Effects of Property Rights from Space"
Bryan Leonard, Arizona State University
Dominic Parker, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Land Ownership and Irrigation on American Indian Reservations: A Regression Discontinuity Approach"
Eric Edwards, Utah State University

"Employment Discrimination Against Indigenous Peoples in the United States: Evidence from a Field Experiment"
Patrick Button, Tulane University

"Income Inequality and Ethnicity on American Indian Reservations"
Dustin Frye, Vassar College
Dominic Parker, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Assessing the Impact of the ANCSA Corporations on the Welfare of Alaskan Natives"
Keith Hankins, Chapman University

"Unravelling Latent Tribal Wealth"
Rakihia Tau, Canterbury University

AGENDA (with links to papers)

The workshop is limited to a small group of scholars to ensure meaningful discussion of the papers.

For more information, please contact Wendy Purnell:

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11:00 AM11:00

Alliance Luncheon at Rocky Mountain College

Misty Kuhl, who leads the American Rocky Mountain College's Native American Outreach and Programming hosted a luncheon for tribal dignitaries and dignitaries to discuss renewing indigenous economies.


Chairman A.J. Not Afraid, elected leader of the Crow Tribe of Indians.

Dr. Terry Anderson, an economist and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Prof. Te Maire Tau, an historian and the director of the Ngāi Tahu Research Center at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand

Manny Jules, a former chief of the Kamloops Band, and the chief commissioner of the First Nations Tax Commission, an indigenous institution assisting First Nations governments.

For more information, contact Misty Kuhl:

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to May 17

May 16 & 17: First Nations 2018 National Meeting

Our Lands. Our Jurisdiction. Our Institutions: First Nations Leading the Way.

A two-day meeting was held on May 16 & 17, 2018 at the River Rock Hotel and Casino in Vancouver, British Columbia. Attendees included 320 delegates from over 160 FMA and/or FNLMA First Nations communities across Canada.

The goals of the meeting were to bring First Nations leaders together to:

  • Share institutions tools and support services
  • Learn about First Nations success stories working outside of the Indian Act
  • Unify a collective voice for First Nations led initiatives and innovations
  • Set a clear path forward for building prosperous and vibrant First Nation communities

Organized by the Tulo Centre of Indigenous Economics, the FIrst Nations Tax Commission, the First Nations Financial Management Board, the First Nations Finance Authority, and the Lands Advisory Board.

Event Highlights

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