In this paper we draw from lessons learned in four research projects to suggest effective strategies for building successful economies in Indian Country. Current thinking about economic development in Indian Country often focuses on the challenges of implementing successful models from outside Indian Country in a location considered deficient in the cultural, social, financial, and human preconditions necessary for successfully growing jobs and businesses. Recent research from the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development, Heartland Center for Leadership Development, and United Tribes Technical College counters this perception in three ways. First, despite some reports to the contrary, many successful entrepreneurs live in Indian Country. Second, while reservation communities do experience higher levels of poverty and unemployment than their non-reservation counterparts, Indian country abounds in unacknowledged and often uninvested natural, cultural, human, and social capital assets. Traditional mainstream approaches to job and business development typically overlook these assets. Third, our data indicates that many Native people define wealth in non monetary ways suggesting that successful economic development in Indian Country must be measured by the indicators that matter most to the people involved.

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