Tribal Assets

by Robert H. White. Holt, $24.95. Mr. White reports on the means by which the Passamaquoddy of Maine, the Choctaw of Mississippi, the Ak-Chin of Arizona, and the Warm Springs Confederation of Oregon have developed profitable businesses on their reservations and escaped from total dependence on the erratic and often misdirected support of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The financial arrangements differ from tribe to tribe, are at times extremely complicated, and always require non-Indian legal and investment experts, either BIA help or BIA noninterference, and indigenous leaders determined to improve conditions. A cynic might complain that tribal leaders permit the exploitation of their people when they entice industries to their land by the promise of cheap, nonunion labor. A tribal chairman would reply that low salaries are balanced by a high level of public services in health, housing, education, and anything else community members need. Mr. White’s interviews with Indian authorities produce numerous quotable lines, the most pertinent from a Navajo who observed, apropos concern about the possible loss of traditional values, “Traditional Navajo values do not include poverty.”