Breaking the cycle

Focus on international trade, speaker says, to spur economic development


Joseph Austin believes that international trading between Native Nations and less dependence from federal and state government is a concept the Navajo Nation should consider to further economic development.

Austin, originally from Black Mesa, Arizona, is obtaining his master’s degree from the University of Arizona College of Law, where his focus is on international trade. He is also a practicing attorney.

During the second day of the 2nd Annual Navajo Nation Economic Summit, Austin incorporated much of his knowledge on business, international trading and law into his presentation to provide a new way of thinking when it comes to economic development on the Navajo Nation.

“We’ve been trying to figure out a solution to economic development for decades now and yet we don’t see improvement,” said Austin. “We need to branch out and be innovative when it comes to business ventures.”

Through his research Austin said he has studied domestic law, domestic policy in business, as well as looking more in depth to what other tribes are doing or have done, and he noticed that a lot of tribes do not participate in business on the international level.

“A lot of what I talk about here, about international trade, is uncharted territory,” said Austin. “By using the global trade model we can use those concepts and theories and apply that to Native people here.”

Austin gave historical facts that tie into what Indian Country has developed into today, especially when it came to colonization and the dismantling of trade routes, one of which involved Chaco Canyon.

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Categories: Business

About Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reports on Navajo Nation Council, Business, Fort Defiance Agency, New Mexico State politics and Art/fashion. Her clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent. She can be reached at