What Does Social Inclusion Mean for Tribal America?

03/24/20 10:07:am

On February 28, 2020, NNI Research Director Miriam Jorgensen presented a paper titled “Indigenous Nations in Post-Racial America: Rethinking Social Inclusion” as part of a panel organized by the National Economic Association and the Union for Radical Political Economics at the Eastern Economic Association (EEA) annual meeting in Boston, MA. The paper, co-authored with Stephen Cornell, continues the pair’s critical examination of social inclusion metrics typically used by policymakers and academics.

Cornell and Jorgensen’s concern is that US government policies focused on “closing the gap” in socioeconomic measures are an inadequate means of addressing the needs and aspirations of American Indian nations. While acknowledging the debilitating effects for many of those nations of long-term poverty, they argue that currently popular policy concerns with “social inclusion” are implicitly assimilationist, focusing on the needs of individuals but ignoring, to a large degree, the desire of many Indigenous nations to survive as distinct collectives, part of the United States but not wholly subsumed within it.

“...a critical part of our research has been to show that movement toward a ‘post-racial’ society does not necessitate the disappearance of Native nations." –Miriam Jorgensen

American Review of Canadian Studies

Discussion following Jorgensen's presentation questioned whether social inclusion policies adequately address the aspirations of other communities of color as well and how economic modelling could accommodate Native nations’ goals.

Cornell and Jorgensen’s initial exploration of this topic, the paper “What are the Limits of Social Inclusion? Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous Governance in Canada and the United States,” was supported by Fulbright Canada and is published in the July 2019 issue of the American Review of Canadian Studies. We expect the EEA paper, which focuses on the United States alone, to be published next year.

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