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


Whispering Pines Indian Band Chief on Kinder Morgan dispute

"I want you to respect my jurisdiction. I want you to invest in my community. But most of all I want you to keep the oil in the damn pipe."
Michael LeBourdais

The Whispering Pines Indian Band is closely watching the dispute over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. It's among a number communities who've signed mutual benefit agreements with Kinder Morgan. But if the pipeline doesn't go through, the benefits won't flow.

Wendy Purnell
Restoring Tribal Economies

In the nineteenth century, the young nations of the United States and Canada enacted laws designed to undermine indigenous governance and economic independence. North America’s indigenous institutions—like tribal councils, sun dances, and potlatches—had evolved over centuries, but were suddenly declared illegal and replaced by federal programs. In both countries, a diverse set of indigenous governance structures, property rights, and trade networks was replaced by a monolithic system that centralized the provision of goods and services and fostered dependence on federal governments. “The indigenous population of the hemisphere was deprived not only of land and freedom,” observes Hoover fellow Thomas Sowell, but also of “the underlying foundation of cultural traditions on which any society is based.”

In today's indigenous communities we are observing a “renaissance in tribal self-governance” and an “economic civil rights movement.” Put another way, the devolution of power from the Feds to tribes is an experiment in federalism and decentralization—one that appears to be working. The innovation emerging on reservations in the United States can unlock many untapped resources for Native Americans.

Defining Ideas  December 20, 2017

Wendy Purnell
Indigenous Demographics Meets Provincial Fiscal Reality

Each year, Maclean’s presents its year-end Chartapalooza, a guide to making sense of the economy in the year ahead. The Tulo Centre's Andre Le Dressay's chart was included among the most important economic charts to watch in 2018.


"Canada can soon no longer afford to run the lives of indigenous people. Perhaps 2018 could be the indigenous policy fiscal tipping point for Canada."

Maclean's  December 5, 2017, via the Tulo Centre

Wendy Purnell
Creating the Alliance for Renewing Indigenous Economies

This summer, Alliance founders from Canada and New Zealand gathered in Kamloops, Brtitish Columbia. The Tulo Centre captured some of the conversation about the similarities and differences between the Maori experience and the First Nations experience. "We are joined by the Pacific, it doesn't divide us," explains Manny Jules.

Listen to Tulo's podcast to explore the importance of jurisdiction and the revolutionary ideas of the Alliance for Renewing Indigenous Economies. It isn't about just identity, language, and song. It's actually about fundamental well being and community, which includes economics as its underpinning.

Juli Holloway from the First Nations Tax Commission
Manny Jules from the Tulo Centre of Indigenous Economics
Te Maire Tau, Darren Russell, and Rinito Davis from the Ngāi Tahu Research Centre at the University of Canterbury

The Tulo Centre September 6, 2017

Wendy Purnell
Zuckerberg meets Native American poverty

The Blackfeet, like so many tribes are searching for ways to free themselves from colonial bondage, and there is hope. Lance Morgan, managing partner of a national tribal law firm, noted in the Arizona State Law Journal, “The economic rise of tribes in the last twenty-five years, largely due to long term impact of self-determination, gaming, natural resource development, and the ancillary rise of tribal corporations, has changed the basic economic and legal equation.”

The Hill • July 24, 2017

Wendy Purnell
Jurisdiction critical for First Nations in nation-to-nation relationship

Confederation was based on the fiction that First Nations title and jurisdiction didn’t exist — a founding myth that has been busted many times by the courts in the last 40 years.
Now is the time to commit ourselves to creating protected First Nation powers and revenue authorities within the FMA. This would help complete Confederation and bring about reconciliation. It would reject the notion that indigenous people can’t govern themselves. It would provide an option to implement many recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It would provide a true nation-to-nation option.

As we enter the 150th year of Confederation, we are ready for the dawn of a new era for this country.

Vancouver Sun • July 9, 2017

Wendy Purnell
Quiet Crisis: Unmet Needs in Indian Country

In testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Alliance co-founder Terry Anderson explains that the poverty gap between Native Americans and other Americans is an institutional gap:

In the case of indigenous peoples, such institutions are a combination of rules and compliance procedures that evolved over a long period prior to western contact and of rules and compliance procedures that were imposed by the westerners with whom indigenous people came in contact.

The institutional gap for Native Americans includes both a lack of property rights for Indians to most reservation land and a lack of a rule of law on most reservations, and it is that institutional infrastructure that is as crucial as physical and educational infrastructure to “unlocking the wealth of Indian Nations.”
Sovereignty means having the authority to make decisions and the willingness to accept the consequences of those decisions. In the short-term, the federal government has a trust responsibility, including funding for reservation infrastructure, which it must live up to. But in the long-term, it should focus on providing the institutions that promote self-sufficiency both for tribes and individual Indians.

Read Anderson's full testimony.

Briefing on Quiet Crisis: Federal Funding and Unmet Needs in Indian Country, 2016 Update
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
 • February 19, 2016


Wendy Purnell