Indian Tribal Businesses and the Off Reservation Market

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The pre-American trading centers of the Great Lakes - Sault Ste. Marie, Michilimackinac, and Detroit - developed as natural manifestations of economic activity involving the Indigenous peoples of the region, as well as the French, the British, and lastly the Americans. In many ways, during that period, the Indian people controlled these markets. As history turned against the Indians, the Europeans acquired control of these markets. The federal Indian law and policy manifestation of this control can be explained in the phrase "measured separatism." While measured separatism had value for Indian and American communities for a time, as well as serious disadvantages, the need Indian law controls over the market has receded to a significant extent. The recent limitations on off-reservation gaming are manifestations of this measured separatism. These controls should be a call for tribal business interests to drop some of their reliance on federal Indian law, which creates some economic advantages, and re-enter the larger economic world.


Work published when author not on Michigan Law faculty.