Ethical Indigenous Economies


  • Dara Kelly Simon Fraser University
  • Christine Woods The University of Auckland



Indigenous economics, trans-systemic Indigenous knowledge, ethical economies, Indigenous economic freedom


In this article, the authors argue that trans-systemic knowledge system analysis of Indigenous-to-Indigenous economics enables generative thinking toward Indigenous futures of economic freedom. The authors apply a trans-systemic lens to critically analyze persistent development philosophy that acts as a barrier to the advancement of Indigenous economic development thinking. By exploring ways in which colonial discourse entraps Indigenous nations within circular logic in service of a normative centre the need for new economic logic is apparent. Shifting to trans-systemic knowledge systems analysis to include diverse insights from Māori and other Indigenous economic philosophy, the authors show that it is not profit and financial growth that matters in and of itself. Rather, according to Indigenous definitions of wealth, economic freedom and development are constituted by value creation that aligns with Indigenous worldviews and principles. Indigenous economic knowledge centred on relationship, reciprocity and interconnectedness fosters Indigenous economic freedom.

Author Biographies

Dara Kelly, Simon Fraser University

Dara Kelly (corresponding author) is from the Leq’á:mel First Nation, part of the Stó:lō Coast Salish. She is an assistant professor of Indigenous Business at the Beedie School of Business, SFU. She teaches in the Executive MBA in Indigenous Business and Leadership program and on Indigenous business environments within full-time and part-time MBA programs. Dr. Kelly is a recipient of the 2020 Early in Career Award for c BC Distinguished Academic Awards. Her research helps fill in gaps in the literature on the economic concepts and practices of the Coast Salish and other Indigenous nations. She conducts research using research methodology emerging from Coast Salish philosophy, protocols and worldview. A paper stemming from her thesis won the Best Paper in Sustainability Award at the Sustainability, Ethics and Entrepreneurship (SEE) Conference in Puerto Rico in February 2017. She is co-chair of the Indigenous Caucus at the Academy of Management and serves on the board of the Association for Economic Research of Indigenous Peoples.  Email:  

Christine Woods, The University of Auckland

Kiwi-born and bred, Christine Woods is an associate professor in entrepreneurship and innovation in the Faculty of Business & Economics at the University of Auckland. Chris teaches entrepreneurship at the Undergraduate and Master’s level and Māori Entrepreneurship, a component of the Postgraduate Diploma in Māori Business. Her research interests are in SME and family business, social entrepreneurship, and Māori entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial education. Chris is part of the ICEHOUSE Business Growth Programmes directing team, facilitating the Owner Manager Programme and does consultancy work with SMEs and Family Businesses and social enterprises. She is the founding director of Māori Maps ( Email: 


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How to Cite

Kelly, D., & Woods, C. (2021). Ethical Indigenous Economies. Engaged Scholar Journal: Community-Engaged Research, Teaching, and Learning, 7(1), 140–158.

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