To read this content please select one of the options below:

Economic Sovereignty in Volatile Times: Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ Strategies Supporting Economic Stability

Individual and Social Adaptations to Human Vulnerability

ISBN: 978-1-78769-176-6, eISBN: 978-1-78769-175-9

Publication date: 14 December 2018


In this paper, I foreground the concept of economic sovereignty in order to clarify strategies that undergird the practices of, and hindrances to, political sovereignty. I argue that current critical discourses on sovereignty can be significantly furthered with careful examination of the framework of economic strategies that support, and are often driving forces of, these political actions. To illustrate the importance of these complex strategies, I focus on the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ (EBCI) casino and small-business markets during the volatile years of the Great Recession. This discussion begins by investigating continued Native Nation economic precarity in the context of economic actions taken by US governments specifically with regard to gaming regulation. I then explain the strategic methods by which Native Nations have addressed and mitigated some of these incursions, thereby highlighting how such strategies disrupt the settler–colonial narrative of the agency-less indigenous state. These strategies are enacted at both government and individual levels through (1) the economic development experiences of Native Nations in relation to their distinctive hybrid political–economic governmental structures, such as the EBCI’s charter of incorporation that also serves as its national constitution, and (2) the strength of the EBCI small-business market in supporting these efforts. In arguing for this framework of economic strategies, this study contributes to understandings of global indigenous communities’ current strengths and vulnerabilities by thoroughly disentangling models of economic sovereignty from economic power, demonstrating how discussions of political economy must engage with issues of economic sovereignty.



Lewis, C. (2018), "Economic Sovereignty in Volatile Times: Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ Strategies Supporting Economic Stability", Individual and Social Adaptations to Human Vulnerability (Research in Economic Anthropology, Vol. 38), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 175-198.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019 Emerald Publishing Limited