Performance Improvement 2005. Overcoming Challenges to Business and Economic Development in Indian Country


This report, one in a series from the tribal component of HHS’ congressionally mandated evaluation of DOL’s Welfare-to-Work Grants Program, describes the challenges and successes of selected tribes in implementing economic development initiatives. American Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages have embraced the goals, objectives, and programs associated with welfare reform, but the lack of jobs limits the success of tribal programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Welfare-to-Work (WtW). The lack of jobs is one of the biggest problems in Indian Country. Recognizing the scope and importance of this problem, the federal government has promoted business and economic development (BD/ED). This report presents findings for eight tribes (Cheyenne River Sioux, Citizen Potawatomi, Colville Confederated Tribes, Gila River, Mississippi Choctaw, Navajo Nation, Three Affiliated Tribes, and Turtle Mountain Chippewa) and two Alaska Native corporations (Bristol Bay Native Corporation and Doyon Limited). The report indicates that tribes in the study have developed a wide range of BD/ED activities, and all benefited from one or more federal programs promoting economic development. While some tribes have had significant successes in the area of gaming, most tribes do not participate in gaming operations. The studied tribal organizations encountered a variety of barriers to economic development, including a lack of investment capital and a focus on short-term rather than long-term results. Few of the tribes had formal monitoring or assessment of economic development initiatives and many lacked strong coordination of BD/ED activities across tribal offices and programs. Jobs have been created and wealth produced, but much more is needed to remedy the high unemployment rates on most tribal lands.

PIC ID: 8107; Agency Sponsor: ASPE-OHSP, Office of Human Services Policy; Federal Contact: Landey, Alana, 202-401-6636; Performer: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Princeton, NJ

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