TOPICS – Module 7: Anishinaabeg Economics

Economics and Revitalizing Indigenous Economic Thinking The creation of wealth and an economy precedes the cash economy, which has come to dominate Anishinaabe Akiing. The wealth of the land of rivers, lakes, wild rice, maple sugar, and gardens was historically immense. The intellectual, cultural and spiritual wealth of a people is unquantifiable, in terms of value, but it’s loss is devastating. The collective historical wealth of a people in terms of medicinal knowledge, cultural and spiritual knowledge, scientific management practices and relationships is very significant. Much of this wealth remains today. Yet, there was not a great quantification historically, although the maple tree stands have diminished, the maple stands on the northern reservations remain still substantial. Charles E. Cleland wrote in Rites of Conquest: A History and culture of Michigan’s Native Americans, “To exemplify this wealth, maple sugar itself became a very highly demanded and important trade item when Europeans came to the region. In l865 alone, the Keweenaw Bay village on Lake Superior sold 453,252 pounds of maple sugar” (243).i Similarly, just southwest of the Keweenaw Bay village, the Menominee nation in Wisconsin produced a great wealth of syrup. According the 1866 Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, the Menominee “…raised but a small crop this year, but made about 75,000 pounds of maple sugar, for which a ready sale was found."ii As a side note, the Oneida that year produced 33,000 bushels of grain (authors note: not sure corn, wheat, or what), 13,500 bushels of potatoes, and owned over 1,500 head of horses and other stock.iii This represents a wealth in an internal economy and a wealth in an export or trade economy. This represents a wealth, which originates from a land, culture, and people, and is a durable and sustainable economic system. Indigenous Economics − Loss of Wealth and valuing the cost of loss of food economics: In 2008, we completed the White Earth Anishinaabe Food Economy study, documenting that our households and tribal programs (excluding the tribal casino) expend over $ 8 million annually on food, the vast majority of it which is imported from off the reservation stores and food service providers. Currently only 14% of food dollars are spent on the reservation. That means that 86% of food dollars are spent of the reservation – a significant loss to our local economy.1 Our tribal food sales, on reservation are largely convenience stores, contributing to a loss of food preparation knowledge (ie basic cooking) and, adding to our diabetes epidemic. Revitalizing our local food economy by supporting and aggregating local producers and traditional agricultural knowledge is more important than ever. Discussion Questions: Additional Valuation questions -- what is the value of a loss of a limb? What is the cost to a human of their fear for loss of health?

Readings
Session 7: Anishinaabeg Economics Module Topics Readings From the text: 7 Any readings?
1

Laduke, Winona. WELRP Food Sovereignty Report 2008. Callaway, MN, 2008.

Assignments
TOPICS – Module 7: T Anishinaabeg Economics ? DAY 1: 1 2 3 4 DAY 2: 5 6 7 8 9 DAY 3: 10 11 12 13 14

Bibliography
Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to the Secretary of the Interior for the Year 1883. District of Columbia. Washington Government Printing Office: 1883. Cleland, Charles E. Rites of Conquest: A History and culture of Michigan’s Native Americans. Ann Arbor, U Michigan: l992. Laduke, Winona. WELRP Food Sovereignty Report 2008. Callaway, MN, 2008.
i

Cleland, Charles E. Rites of Conquest: A History and culture of Michigan’s Native Americans. Ann Arbor, U Michigan: l992. ii Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to the Secretary of the Interior for the Year 1883. District of Columbia. Washington Government Printing Office: 1883. iii Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to the Secretary of the Interior for the Year 1883. District of Columbia. Washington Government Printing Office: 1883.