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The Indigenous Economy

In her book, Indigenomics, Carol Anne Hilton lays out the tenets of the emerging Indigenous economy. It is an economy built around relationships, multigenerational stewardship of resources, and care for all. Indigenomics calls for a new development model, one that advances Indigenous self-determination, collective well-being, and reconciliation.

Today, we take an excerpt from Indigenomics where Carol Anne Hilton introduces the Indigenous Economy by outlining its fundamental characteristics.

Excerpt from the Book

Characteristics of an Indigenous Economy

It is important to gain insight into the foundational elements or characteristics of an Indigenous economy. Outlined here are 10 key characteristics of an Indigenous economy, stemming directly from the elements within an Indigenous worldview:

  1. An Indigenous economy is an economic system that is place-based. It recognizes and values origin as the relationship to space and people through the deep and lasting connection to place. It is this continuity that forms the sense of responsibility to place and time.
  2. An Indigenous economy forms the basis of relational accountability. It is centered in an inherent sacred sense of responsibility and long-term impact for inter-relational decision-making.
  3. An Indigenous economy is future-based. It is framed in multigenerational thinking. It focuses on long-term thinking and decision-making for the seventh generation and beyond. Decision-making is focused on long-term impact.
  4. An Indigenous economy focuses on equality in all universal relationships. It focuses on the inter-relationship of species and respect for life as a core value. The quality and nature of “exchange” encompasses the protocols of life, the agreements of place, and responsibility.
  5. An Indigenous economy works to connect and value both the natural and supernatural world—all of the physical, spiritual, tangible, and intangible components.
  6. An Indigenous economy is based on the concept of reciprocity. It focuses on giving and receiving as core structures for wealth production and distribution that forms the basis of exchange and the future value of wealth.
  7. An Indigenous economy is restorative or regenerative in nature. It focuses on economic progress as a parallel process to responsibility for lands, resource management, conservation, and long-term conservation of resources.
  8. An Indigenous economy focuses on the core value and teaching of “only taking what is needed.” This is a core premise of governance and decision-making—that future generations require this of us today. Management systems are established from this concept. Indigenous knowledge systems and ways of knowing form relational decision-making.
  9. An Indigenous economy both focuses on economic interdependence and builds economic sovereignty (right to an economy) as a mechanism of modernity. Economic sovereignty works to facilitate and uplift the retention of cultural and spiritual identity and the continuity of connection and interdependence.
  10. An Indigenous economy measures wealth through relationship and community and across time. Prosperity is confirmed through recognition, protocol, ceremony, the exchange of gifting, and distribution. The future value of wealth is based on giving and wealth distribution.
First Nations totem in the forest

About the Author

Author Carol Anne Hilton

Carol Anne Hilton is founder of the Indigenomics Institute and an advisor to business, governments, and First Nations. She is a Hesquiaht woman of Nuu chah nulth descent from the west coast of Vancouver Island. She holds an MBA and comes from 10,000 years of the potlatch tradition. She lives in Victoria, BC..

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