Indigenizing Catalytic Capital


Kate R. Finn, Melanie Matteliano, Jennifer Astone, and David LeZaks

Contributors: James Smith

June 2023

Sovereignty and Indigenous definitions of wealth make up the core values on which Natives have built their economic and financial power. Yet, there is still the issue of economic invisibility for Native Peoples, and one of the ways to combat this is through investing in these communities with catalytic capital. This will allow Indigenous Peoples in the United States to hold onto autonomy with their finances and economies, while also emphasizing non-extractive investing. “Catalytic Capital +” is a term created for this report to describe the creative ways in which catalytic capital has brought financial success to Native communities through varied methods and factors. 

Illustrated in this report are the ways Native business-owners, companies, and governments have used catalytic capital to conquer systemic inequities that hindered their access to capital. The aim of this research was to identify the specific characteristics of catalytic capital, through input directly from Native entrepreneurs. Outlined in this report are eleven themes about the current state of catalytic capital, leading to the following five suggestions that help with the expansion of catalytic capital+ access to Indigenous peoples: enacting data justice, centering Indigenous-led intermediaries, increasing literacy in “Native Nations 101”, promoting integrated capital strategies, and investing in right relationships. 

Interviews with Native entrepreneurs, intermediaries, and investors form a significant amount of the information in this report. In addition, catalytic capital case studies are featured, highlighting “Native Women Lead,” “Wolak̇ota Buffalo Range,” and “Navajo Power”.  

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