Why is sovereignty so important for Economies development in Indian Country?

Why is sovereignty so important for Economies development in Indian Country?
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Founded by Professors Stephen Cornell and Joseph P. Kalt at Harvard University in 1987, the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development (Harvard Project) is housed within the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Through applied research and service, the Harvard Project aims to understand and foster the conditions under which sustained, self-determined social and economic development is achieved among American Indian nations. The Harvard Project s core activities include research, advisory services, executive education and the administration of a tribal governance awards program. In all of its activities, the Harvard Project collaborates with the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy at the University of Arizona. The Harvard Project is also formally affiliated with the Harvard University Native American Program, an interfaculty initiative at Harvard University.
At the heart of the Harvard Project is the systematic, comparative study of social and economic development on American Indian reservations. What works, where and why? Among the key research findings:
Sovereignty Matters. When tribes make their own decisions about what approaches to take and what resources to develop, they consistently out-perform non-tribal decision-makers. The effective exercise of sovereignty is manifested in many ways, from tribal control over resource management and tribally designed economic development strategies to tribal administration of health care and other social services.
Institutions Matter. Harvard Project research consistently finds that assertions of sovereignty must be backed by capable institutions of governance for development to take hold. Stable political institutions and policies, fair and independent mechanisms for dispute resolution, a separation of politics from day-to-day business management, a capable bureaucracy and a strategic orientation are institutional attributes that help tribes create an environment conducive to economic development.
Culture Matters. Successful tribal economies stand on the shoulders of culturally appropriate institutions of self-government that enjoy legitimacy among tribal citizens. Given a diversity of Native cultures and circumstances, tribes are challenged to equip themselves with institutions (e.g., constitutions, economic systems, etc.) that fit their unique societies. Research by the Harvard Project finds that Indian culture has concrete impacts in areas such as forest productivity and housing quality.
Over the past decade-and-a-half, the Harvard Project has undertaken hundreds of research studies and advisory projects. Results of Harvard Project research are published widely. Summary treatments are provided in Reloading the Dice: Improving the Chances of Economic Development on American Indian Reservations (Cornell and Kalt) and Sovereignty and Nation-Building: The Development Challenge in Indian Country Today (Cornell and Kalt). Both papers, plus many additional publications are available on the Harvard Project s Research and Publications page.

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