Nett Lake, Boise Fort Indian Reservation.

The Economic Geography and Dynamics of Businesses on Indian Reservations: The Role of Space, Demographics, and Tribal Institutions

Principal Investigator

Elton Mykerezi

Department and College

Department of Applied Economics in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences

Project Number


Funding Type

NIFA Grant (Non-Formula)

Partnering States

  • California

Project Start and End Date

October 1, 2015-January 31, 2020

Project Summary

Rural locations face unique development challenges, necessitating research-based Extension programs suited to such areas. Scholarship and Extension for rural Indian Reservations face two unique barriers, even relative to other rural/remote locations. (1) The Census Bureau, releases population data aggregated at the reservation level, but it does not do so for its business data. Aggregate economic data are released in series like County Business Patterns (CBP), which is not available for reservations, in part because addresses in the Bureau's business registry are not geocoded for reservation location. (2) Tribal government sovereignty (from states) causes institutional structures which are substantially different from non-reservation rural counties (e.g. election frequency/formats, reliance on tribal courts, the applicability of state business law). Thus, research and extension on rural areas, in general, does not generalize to reservations.

This project addresses both issues and generates research and extension suitable for rural reservations by: geocoding census data for location in reservations under special agreement with the Bureau; combining geocoded microdata for US firms with institutional data collected by the Minneapolis Fed to generate new reservation economic profiles and research on the role of reservation institutions; incorporating business data and research into existing Extension economic development programming; using UM Extension's 'Futures Workshop' to pilot. This project makes research methods, tools and data routinely used in economic development nationwide accessible to reservations. We expect this will lead to closer collaboration between tribal leaders and extension, and, eventually, positive development outcomes for rural reservation economies.