Accepted paper:

Aboriginal Entrepreneurialism in the context of land use (mining) agreements


Sarah Holcombe (University of Queensland)

Paper short abstract:

An exploration of the issue of Aboriginal entrepreneurialism in the context of the remote Pilbara economy (WA) that is dominated by the iron ore mining boom. How do a range of individual Aboriginal people negotiate benefit from various land use agreements in the Pilbara.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper I'd like to explore the issue of Aboriginal entrepreneurialism in the context of a remote economy that is dominated by a regional mining boom. In the Pilbara region of Western Australia Aboriginal people, as Native Title holders, are today enmeshed in a political economy that hinges on the individual's relationship between their Aboriginal 'community' and a series of complex land use agreements over their lands. The land use agreements made between Aboriginal groups and mining companies, and related commercial opportunities, have inspired a class of Aboriginal business people or entrepreneurs. By analyzing the strategic engagement of several of these entrepreneurs with various mining company interests, it is clear that there is no 'type' of Aboriginal entrepreneur, rather there is considerable entrepreneurial diversity. However, the socio-cultural milieu within which these entrepreneurs operate suggests that there are parameters that structure this engagement. An analysis of these parameters offers insight into the motivations of these entrepreneurs and the tensions between 'success' and 'community' membership.

panel P27
Indigenous participation in Australian frontier economies