What does "development" mean for Indigenous peoples? Indigenous Economics lays out an alternative path showing that conscious attention to relationships among humans and the natural world creates flourishing social-ecological economies.
Economist Ronald L. Trosper draws on examples from North and South America, Aotearoa/New Zealand, and Australia to argue that Indigenous worldviews centring care and good relationships provide critical and sustainable economic models in a world under increasing pressure from biodiversity loss and climate change. He explains the structure of relational Indigenous economic theory, providing principles based on his own and others' work with tribal nations and Indigenous communities. Trosper explains how sustainability is created at every level when relational Indigenous economic theory is applied – micro, meso, and macro.
Good relationships support personal and community autonomy, replacing the individualism/collectivism dichotomy with relational leadership and entrepreneurship. Basing economies on relationships requires changing governance from the top-down approaches of nation-states and international corporations; instead, each community creates its own territorial relationships, creating plurinational relational states. This book offers an important alternative to classic economic theory. In Indigenous Economics, support for Indigenous communities' development and Indigenous peoples' well-being go hand-in-hand.
Publication of this book is made possible in part by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Program in Public Understanding of Science.
Preface and Acknowledgments
1. Living Well by Developing Relationships
2. Relationships and Persons
3. Relationships Build Indigenous Identity
5. Common Pool and Public Goods
6. Sustainability and Relational Leadership
7. Relational Entrepreneurship
Afterword: Two Approaches to Economics
Ronald L. Trosper, professor at the University of Arizona, is also the author of Resilience, Reciprocity and Ecological Economics: Northwest Coast Sustainability. He is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation, Montana.
"By showing how Indigenous worldviews give rise to an Indigenous economics that is different from the neoclassical standard, Indigenous Economics points to an important alternative path forward for Indigenous peoples' well-being."
– Miriam Jorgensen, co-editor of Creating Private Sector Economies in Native America: Sustainable Development through Entrepreneurship
"It is becoming clearer and clearer that we need a new economics for the twenty-first century, an economics that transcends the dominant economics built on the cultural presuppositions of the modern West – individualism, hyperrationality, the absence of limits, and the nation-state model of Europe and European settlers in various parts of the world. Ron Trosper steps up to the challenge. What is noteworthy about Indigenous Economics is that it goes beyond theoretical abstraction. Trosper's proposals for a new economics synthesize theory with his concrete experience as a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes with a fifty-year record of research, teaching, and policy interventions on issues of vital concern to Native Americans in the United States and First Peoples in Canada. This is a book that will engage not only these communities and scholars working with these communities to chart a sustainable future but also a wider community. Anybody concerned with the perilous trajectory of growth without limits will find Indigenous Economics an invaluable guide to thinking about sustainable alternatives."
– Stephen A. Marglin, author of Raising Keynes: A Twenty-First Century General Theory
"In this powerful exploration of Western and Indigenous thought, Trosper challenges the conventional understandings of economic theory to imagine how the relational viewpoints of Indigenous communities can inform more just and sustainable practices and institutions. This book offers a new way of imagining our shared interests in social and environmental goods, one situated within Indigenous, placed-based value systems that honor all aspects of the natural world and the obligations we share with past and future generations. Relationships are omitted from conventional economic theory, but they are fundamental to Indigenous sustainability. This key insight can guide a new era of policy innovation as we manage our current climate crisis."
– Rebecca Tsosie, Regents Professor of Law, University of Arizona