Malcolm M. Renfrew Interdisciplinary Colloquium Web Archive

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Regional Economic Powerhouses
MRIC 2015/16

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Regional Economic Powerhouses

The Growing Economic Influence of the Five Tribes of Idaho

Steven Peterson
Clinical Assistant Professor, Economics
College of Business and Economics

Presented with support of the Provost’s Office and University Honors Program


The five tribes of Idaho (Coeur d’Alene, Kootenai, Nez Perce, Shoshone-Bannock tribes, and the Shoshone-Paiute tribes) have transformed into regional economic powerhouses over the past quarter century. Their economic footprints now exceed $1 billion annually. The tribes are ranked in the top three largest employers for each of their respective regional economies. Their robust economic contributions arise from their unique role in Idaho’s economy. Each of the tribes is an independent sovereign nation that carries out functions similar to those of state governments. In addition, each is a full-scale economic development agency with unique private-public partnerships. This presentation will outline the economic activities of the five Idaho tribes, their roles in regional economies, and growth possibilities for the future.


Steven Peterson is a clinical assistant professor of economics at the UI, where he has been employed for 23 years. He has conducted more than 100 economic impact or other related economic studies covering almost every aspect of Idaho’s economy. Steven has been working with the Tribes in Idaho for more than 20 years. He has active partnerships across campus, including those with the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, the College of Natural Resources, and Agricultural Extension. Peterson has also completed about 20 studies on various aspects of economic growth and business activity in the Palouse region.

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