This paper reviews the literature on economic development as it relates to indigenous people in the United States and Canada, and focuses on how institutions affect economic development of reservation and reserve economies. Evidence shows that strong property rights to reservation and reserve land and natural resources, whether communal or individual, are and always have been important determinants of productivity. Political and legal institutions that are perceived as stable and predictable to tribal members and to non-Natives also improve economic opportunities for indigenous people living on reservations and reserves. Research reviewed here also shows that culture and acculturation are important in the development process. Although our emphasis is on North America, the findings are applicable to indigenous people in other parts of the world and shed light on growth questions that loom large for developing countries around the world.