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An Indigenous Approach to Community Wealth Building: A Lakota Translation

Stephanie Gutierrez, co-founder of Hope Nation LLC, explores hows effective community wealth building in Native communities depends on an active process of cultural translation. It is necessary to situate strategies for inclusive economic development within a framework grounded in the traditional values at the core of Native communities. Drawing on the work done in the Learning/Action Lab for Community Wealth Building—a peer-driven cohort of Native communities supported by the Democracy Collaborative and the Northwest Area Foundation—Guttierez explores how Lakota community wealth builders at Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation on the Pine Ridge Reservation worked to center their own experiences, language, and history in the process of launching two social enterprises.

In the report, Gutierrez powerfully demonstrates how any community wealth building effort that does not commit to the work of decolonizing its concepts and strategies will fail to accomplish what it sets out to do. As she notes: "Indigenous communities have the power, strength, and intelligence to develop culturally specific strategies of liberation, health, and well-being. Indigenous people have the right to accept new ways of thinking, reconstruct them, or to deny them. Translation is not only encouraged but necessary."