Document Type


Publication Date

January 2005


This paper presents the current land regime and nature of economic development found on most Native American reservations, drawing predominantly from the Navajo Nation. It then considers the situation according to (1) neo-classical economics and (2) New Institutional Economics (NIE). The paper begins with the paired assumptions that economic growth can and should reach reservations and that the U.S. and tribal governments can improve upon past performance and institutional arrangements. Policy solutions to reservation commercial and light industrial underdevelopment, corresponding to each economic perspective in turn, are then discussed. The paper broadens the range of policy options available to tribes considering their land use policies and development priorities. The paper is a mixture of law, economic theory, and land use planning.