(p. A15) There are almost no private businesses or entrepreneurs on Indian reservations because there are no property rights. Reservation land is held in trust by the federal government and most is also owned communally by the tribe. It’s almost impossible for tribe members to get a mortgage, let alone borrow against their property to start a business. The Bureau of Indian Affairs regulates just about every aspect of commerce on reservations.
Instead of giving Indians more control over their own land–allowing them to develop natural resources or use land as collateral to start businesses–the federal government has offered them what you might call a loophole economy. Washington carves out a sector of the economy, giving tribes a regulatory or tax advantage over non-Indians. But within a few years the government takes it away, in many cases leaving Indian tribes as impoverished and more disheartened than they were before.
. . .
What American Indians need first is less regulation. There is a reason that Native Americans say BIA, the initials for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, really stands for “Bossing Indians Around.”
For the full commentary, see:
NAOMI SCHAEFER RILEY. “The Loophole Economy Is No Jackpot for Indians; Running casinos or selling tax-free cigarettes can’t substitute for what tribes truly need: property rights.” The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., July 28, 2016): A15.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date July 27, 2016.)
The above commentary by Riley is related to her book, which is:
Riley, Naomi Schaefer. The New Trail of Tears: How Washington Is Destroying American Indians. New York: Encounter Books, 2016.