Small Businesses

Building Sustainable Tribal Economies: Small Businesses

Dr. Ian Record, Director of NCAI’s Partnership for Tribal Governance (PTG), discusses the critical role that small businesses owned and operated by tribal citizens can play – and are playing – in tribal nations’ efforts to build sustainable economies that are capable of supporting their achievement of their nation-rebuilding priorities.

This video, from a guest lecture to Native American Political Leadership Program students at George Washington University, is part of PTG’s effort to provide tribal nations, leaders, and key decision-makers with educational resources they can use to develop informed, strategic approaches to building sustainable tribal economies. The lecture was adapted and expanded from a presentation originally developed by Dr. Record and Joan Timeche, Executive Director of the Native Nations Institute at the University of Arizona, in 2011.

To learn more about the topics covered in the lecture, please see the comprehensive list of related resources below.


NCAI Resources:

“Tribal Economic Development” Federal Policy Brief (2020)
Citizen-Owned Businesses: Key to Building Sustainable Tribal Economies (videos)
Chris James and Joan Timeche: The Many Contributions of Citizen-Owned Businesses to Tribal Economies and Communities
Tanya Fiddler and Chris James: The Many Challenges Facing Citizen-Owned Businesses in Indian Country
Joan Timeche: Key Steps Tribal Governments Can Take to Foster Citizen-Owned Businesses
Martin Harvier: Creating Fertile Ground: The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community
Tanya Fiddler: Native CDFIs: A Key Partner in Fostering Small Business Development in Indian Country
Major Robinson: Indian Business Alliances: A Key Partner in Fostering Small Business Development in Indian Country
NCAI “Economic Development” YouTube Channel Playlist (videos)

Curricular Resources:

Rebuilding Native Nations: Strategies for Governance and Development (book)
Rebuilding Native Nations: Economic Development (online course)

General Resources:

Kaufmann Currents4 Ways to Spur Native American Entrepreneurship (article)
Minnesota Business: 10 Ways to Grow American Indian Businesses (article)
Tribal-citizen entrepreneurship: What does it mean for Indian Country, and how can tribes support it? (speech)

Academic Articles & Research Reports:

Access to Capital and Credit in Native Communities (report)
A study of Native American small business ownership: opportunities for entrepreneurs (journal article)
Growing Economies in Indian Country: Taking Stock of Progress and Partnerships (report)
Minnesota Indian Business Alliance: Entrepreneurial Listening Sessions: Lessons Learned (report)
Native American Entrepreneurship in South Dakota’s Nine Reservations (report)
Revisiting Native American Entrepreneurship in South Dakota’s Nine Reservations (report)

Video Resources:

Lesley Kabotie: The Inherent Challenges of Building Reservation Economies
Martin Harvier: Building Sustainable Economies: The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Story
Monica Simeon: Building Sustainable Economies: The Story of Sister Sky
Native Nation Building TV: “Promoting Tribal Citizen Entrepreneurs”
Robert Miller: Creating Sustainable Reservation Economies
Starting & Growing a Business on the Navajo Reservation Revisited

Tribal Approaches:

Honoring Nations: Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation (case study)
Honoring Nations: Migizi Business Camp (case study)
Honoring Nations: Navajo Nation Sales Tax (case study)
Honoring Nations: ONABEN: A Native American Business Network (case study)
Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community: Procurement Policy