Hoover’s Project on Renewing Indigenous Economies (RIE) brought its ideas about how Native Americans can regain prosperity without having to abandon their unique and rich cultural traditions to audiences of policy makers, scholars, and tribal leaders at the institution’s Washington, DC, office on January 11, 2023.
The event featured a panel discussion with project codirectors and Hoover fellows Terry Anderson and Dominic Parker; Daniel Stewart (Spokane Tribe), professor of entrepreneurship, Gonzaga University; Richard Monette (Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa Tribe), professor of law, University of Wisconsin; and Terry Brockie (Gros Ventre Tribe), tribal entrepreneur. Following the presentations, the speakers took questions from the audience.
The mission of this Hoover project—to provide data-driven research to support tribal nations, community leaders, policy makers, entrepreneurs, and individuals in discovering solutions that strengthen Indigenous economies—was reflected throughout the conversation among panelists. For attendees, who represented a diverse set of professional backgrounds, the program was an opportunity to gain insight into the project’s research and learn from the firsthand experiences of tribal citizens who have exhibited leadership in advancing prosperity for their communities.
Stewart provided welcoming remarks about the scope of the project, highlighting in particular the annual Hoover Indigenous Student Seminar, which he directs each summer at the Stanford University campus.
Anderson and Parker opened the panel with presentations that detailed the historical and contemporary importance of tribal rules of law and federal interference in Native economic health. Their remarks also reinforced ideas articulated in the book Renewing Indigenous Economies, written by Anderson and Kathy Ratté (Hoover Institution Press, 2022).
Anderson expounded on the history of economic activities and on the successes of self-governance for tribal nations (watch the video here). Parker’s presentation explained why data-driven research is necessary for understanding and addressing issues that have negatively impacted economic growth and prosperity in tribal nations since the federal government first extended its authority over tribal lands.
Parker focused on the policy changes undertaken by specific tribal nations and citizens to promote self-determination; he also underscored the importance of investing in the next generation of leaders in Indian Country, which is the primary mission of Hoover’s Indigenous Student Seminar.
Brockie relayed his extensive expertise and experiences as an Indigenous business manager of Island Mountain Development Group, a company dedicated to advancing opportunities for tribal nations and citizens in various industries, including construction, real estate, and information technology. Brockie’s success stories highlighted both the economic possibilities and the obstacles present across Indian Country.
Monette outlined the differences between tribal law and federal Indian law and discussed practices employed by the federal government that inhibit Indigenous land ownership. Monette’s discussion of contemporary problems resulting from historical barriers to Indigenous land ownership highlighted the circumstances encountered by tribal citizens and nations seeking to use their land to expand economic growth.
Anderson said, “Hoover research projects are only useful if they reach beyond the ivory tower. The RIE workshop in Washington, DC, did this by connecting with policy makers who can work against the effects of colonialism and shape future policy that supports American Indians in building their economies without abandoning their heritage.”
Parker said, "Our research shows how Washington policies can either suffocate Indigenous economies or give them breathing room to thrive. This was a fantastic venue for sharing what we've learned with people empowered to move the policy needle toward prosperity."
For more information regarding the Hoover Institution's Project on Renewing Indigenous Economies, please reach out by emailing Indigenousecon@stanford.edu.