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Development of Natural Resources on Indian Lands

B. Kevin Gover, Catherine Baker Stetson, Proceedings of 34th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (1988)

While a variety of political and legal considerations enter into business decisions generally, such factors are particularly important in deciding whether to locate a business on an Indian reservation. Perhaps the greatest barrier to economic development in Indian country is the uncertainty of developers as to legal and political factors present on Indian reservations. Notwithstanding these uncertainties, Indian country offers opportunities to developers that make it an attractive place to do business for those with a proper understanding of Indian law and tribal governmental institutions.

We hope to show in this paper the following:

1.that the legal uncertainties associated with transactions in Indian country are not as prevalent as they may appear to those with little experience in Indian law;

2.methods and approaches for reducing legal and political uncertainties, focusing on joint efforts by tribal governments and industry that can minimize unexpected developments; and

3.factors, such as immunities from some forms of regulation and the availability of federal programs that make Indian country an attractive place to do business.