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In broad strokes, Indian Country1 has experienced three waves of growth in jobs and incomes since the late 1960s. The first arose when the U.S. government shifted the agenda for its Indian policy from termination and relocation (ceasing to recognize tribal governments and strongly encouraging/compelling American Indians to move away from reservations) toward support of the poor. This shift placed Indian policy under the umbrella set of policies that constituted the War on Poverty and made reservation-based tribal communities a target population for Great Society programs. In aiding the poor, many of these programs also embraced the idea of community empowerment, in which impoverished communities had the opportunity to participate in program planning, direction, and administration.
Native nation economies have long been dominated by public sector activities - government programs and services and tribal government-owned businesses - which do not generate the same long-term benefits for local communities that the private sector does. In this work, editors Robert Miller, Miriam Jorgensen, Daniel Stewart, and a roster of expert authors address the underdevelopment of the private sector on American Indian reservations, with the goal of sustaining and growing Native nation communities, so that Indian Country can thrive on its own terms. Chapter authors provide the language and arguments to make the case to tribal politicians, Native communities, and allies about the importance of private sector development and entrepreneurship in Indigenous economies. This book identifies and addresses key barriers to expanding the sector, provides policy guidance, and describes several successful business models - thus offering students, practitioners, and policymakers the information they need to make change.
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