Friday, March 16, 2012

Author Interview: Robert J. Miller

What prompted you to write Reservation Capitalism?
I wanted to investigate some of the reasons why Indian reservations are the poorest parts of the United States and how American Indians can work to improve the quality of their lives.

What "message" do you want to communicate?
American Indians supported themselves for millennia by entrepreneurial and intelligent, hard work, and that reinvigorating business and entrepreneurial attitudes can help create viable economies on reservations and bring beneficial and sustainable economic development to Indian Country.

What was the highlight of your research?
The extent to which almost all American Indian cultures supported themselves through what was, in essence, small business activities and how tribal communities protected the private property rights thereby created.

What surprises readers/others the most about your research?
The extent to which American Indians worked diligently to support their families in a variety of occupations and were not nomadic gathering societies that just lived off the bounty of nature.

How did your research change your outlook on economic development in Indian country?
I realized that private entrepreneurial business activities are very much in accord with the cultures and histories of the vast majority of tribal peoples.

How have people reacted to your book and/or the ideas you set forth?
Most people are surprised by the ideas I have put forth because Americans have been misled into thinking that Indians existed by “accident” for thousands of years. Euro-Americans and their governments misunderstood, either by accident or on purpose, how Indians created and sustained their cultures and societies over millennia and the private rights they created and respected. I think that many settler/colonizers societies do this on purpose to justify taking these rights and resources with a clearer conscience.

What's next for you?
I have to deliver my message to both Indian and non-Indians peoples so that we can all work to help improve the economic and poverty-related social conditions that Indian tribal governments and communities face today.

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