Indigenous Rural Renewal in the Inland Pacific Northwest: The Emergence of American Indian Tribes in Regional Economic Development


  • Dick G Winchell Eastern Washington University


The marginalization of Indigenous Peoples in the Inland Pacific Northwest destroyed successful salmon-based tribal economies, while failed federal policies for sustainable economic development on reservations and lack of tribal autonomy led to poverty for American Indians. Federal policies eventually recognized tribal self-government, but it took the legalization of tribal gaming to produce significant economic change. Extremely successful tribal gaming operations produced a rapidly expanding sophistication for tribal investment and a new tribal economy. By 2000 median American Indian /Alaskan Native incomes were higher than non-Indians in most rural counties, and American Indian tribal governments were the largest employers with the most discretionary revenues for investment in many rural counties. A new rural that incorporates tribal governmental and business success has emerged with dramatic new Indigenous rural futures. Keywords: American Indian; Native American; economic growth; Indigenous economies; resilient communities