Tag Archives: Indian reservations

Why Are Indian Reservations So Poor?

Why are Indian reservations so poor? (Link fixed. Sorry.)

The vast majority of land on reservations is held communally. That means residents can’t get clear title to the land where their home sits, one reason for the abundance of mobile homes on reservations. This makes it hard for Native Americans to establish credit and borrow money to improve their homes because they can’t use the land as collateral–and investing in something you don’t own makes little sense, anyway.

“Markets haven’t been allowed to operate in reserve lands,” says [Manny Jules, a former chief of the Kamloops Indian band in British Columbia]. “We’ve been legislated out of the economy. When you don’t have individual property rights, you can’t build, you can’t be bonded, you can’t pass on wealth. A lot of small businesses never get started because people can’t leverage property [to raise funds].

Hat tip Ace of Spades.