By Terry L. Anderson
Some readers of PERC Reports might wonder why we have devoted a special issue to American Indian history and development. The answer is that PERC’s mission is to promote environmental quality through property rights and markets. Doing so requires a firm understanding of how these institutions relate to resource stewardship and economic growth.
American Indian institutions provide a crucible for developing this understanding. In the past, property institutions among Indians determined whether natural resources were carefully husbanded or subject to the tragedy of the commons. Today, those same institutions help explain why reservation economies languish and why reservation environments are so often disappointing.
One of my favorite examples of property rights in Indian culture is the teepee, depicted in this wonderful oil painting, titled Blackfeet Gathering (12”x14”), by Michele Kapor, one of the premier landscape artists in the Mountain West. (For more information on the artist and her work, go to www.kapor-arts.com). This geometric dwelling was privately owned, usually by a woman, who accumulated the hides, sewed them together, and maintained the structure.
Michele painted this teepee scene for me, and I decided to use it as way of giving the readers of PERC Reports, such as yourself, an opportunity to support the magazine made so informative and attractive by Jane Shaw and her crew.
Here’s the deal. Michele Kapor’s original oil painting shown here will be auctioned off to the highest bidder above $2,000, with the proceeds from the auction going toward future issues of PERC Reports. The highest bidder will get the painting, valued at $550, and will get a tax deduction for his or her contribution to PERC in excess of that amount.
You can bid on this painting by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don’t use e-mail, you can call PERC, (406) 587-9591 and ask for your bid to be relayed to Laura Huggins, PERC’s director of development. Bids will be posted as they are received at www.perc.org so you can keep track of whether you are the highest bidder. Bidding will end at 5 p.m. MDT on June 30, 2006.
I hope you enjoy this issue of PERC Reports as much as I did writing for it. At PERC we are committed to furthering the understanding of how societies of free and responsible people are organized and how such organization can improve resource stewardship. The research in this issue shows that American Indians understood the importance of these institutions in the past and that resurrecting property rights and the rule of law on reservations is crucial to raising American Indians out of poverty.
In addition to being PERC’s executive director, TERRY L. ANDERSON is a bow hunter. In this “On Target” column he confronts issues surrounding free market environmentalism. Contact him at email@example.com.