NEWS RELEASE: RFI Faculty Fellow Jessica Shoemaker Presents at International Workshop

LINCOLN, Neb. — December 19, 2017 — Rural Futures Institute Faculty Fellow Jessica Shoemaker recently presented as an invited scholar at the Legal Reforms for Indigenous Economic Growth workshop in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The workshop, held on Oct. 20 and 21, 2017, at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law, brought together scholars to explore the challenges and solutions facing indigenous economic growth internationally.

The international and interdisciplinary workshop fostered discussions through six sessions focused on a range of important topics associated with legal reforms for indigenous economic growth. The legal reform issues discussed during these sessions included land tenure, private sector economies, poverty, business, autonomy and private property rights.

In addition to engaging in a series of discussions around the theme of indigenous economic growth, Shoemaker presented her ongoing research project in a presentation entitled, “Transformational Property: Consistency versus Flexibility in American Indian Land Tenure.”

In her presentation, Shoemaker analyzed the important relationships between law and economic and community development outcomes in American Indian reservations in the United States. She also explored possible legal and other strategies for more holistic and community-driven land tenure reforms going forward.

There are many unique property rules that apply exclusively in American Indian reservations, and many experts agree that these rules often create obstacles to economic development and are at least one important factor in persistent poverty on many reservations. However, these legal systems have proven hard to change for complex reasons. Shoemaker’s work is aimed at helping build a more robust legal and social framework for further local efforts to create meaningful system change.

“My hope is that further careful legal reforms could help improve social welfare outcomes in reservation communities and simultaneously support tribal government’s land-based sovereignty and governance capacity,” Shoemaker said.

Shoemaker’s presentation was one of twelve by internationally invited scholars from the United States, Australia and Canada. By bringing international voices into the conversation, the workshop offered collaboration and comparative thinking for its participants.

According to Shoemaker, this interdisciplinary and international workshop fostered the creation of genuine connections of substance. She looks forward to working on more projects with her new connections from the workshop, including a project that will focus on creating beneficial cooperation and building partnerships between rural communities and reservation communities.

Learn more about Professor Shoemaker’s work at