Published: May 24, 2018
Mark Meaney, Carla Fredericks, Dave Archambault II

A first-of-its-kind partnership between the University of Colorado Law School and the Leeds School of Business is helping to build consensus and mutual understanding between businesses and indigenous peoples, and has earned the attention of the United Nations.

Carla Fredericks, director of the American Indian Law Program at Colorado Law, and Mark Meaney, director of the Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility at Leeds, presented on the partnership, known as the First Peoples Investment Program (FPIEP), at the 17th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York on April 25, 2018.

FPIEP serves as a hub for indigenous peoples, investors, companies, and banks by creating opportunities for direct dialogue to connect regarding development issues. Its mission is to foster alliances and relationships between corporations and indigenous peoples to ensure that indigenous rights are upheld during every stage of resource development. It is the first center of its kind for business and indigenous rights in the nation.

“We are taking this project on because we believe there is tremendous possibility in this work to be able to connect indigenous peoples and companies. There is a tremendous gap of understanding between investors and indigenous peoples, and our goal is to try to bridge some of those gaps through conversation, and to embrace an indigenous way of looking at this problem by committing to ongoing conversation to empower the actors in the situation to build capacity on all sides to connect people and to help them engage better. Ultimately, the goal of that engagement is to transform the paradigm for indigenous rights on development,” Fredericks said in her presentation.

In March, Dave Archambault II, the former chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe who led the tribe’s resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline, joined FPEIP as a senior fellow.  

Financial Impacts of Standing Rock

One of the FPIEP’s research projects examines the financial impact that the Dakota Access pipeline project (DAPL) and ensuing protests by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and allies had on companies involved with the project. Using an event study methodology, FPIEP will analyze the financial impact of social pressure caused by social media activity and traditional media coverage of DAPL to determine whether companies involved with DAPL suffered material harm as a result, quantified by changes in stock price.


FPIEP works from a foundation of indigenous values to achieve a sustainable future for all. Its team works to leverage strategies of corporate engagement and impact investing while building on the mission, values, and activities of First Peoples Worldwide. FPWW funds local development projects in indigenous communities all over the world through connections with corporations, investors, nonprofits, and governments. Founded by Cherokee social entrepreneur Rebecca Adamson in 1997, FPWW has built an extensive legacy that FPIEP will carry forward.

Learn more about the American Indian Law Program at Colorado Law and the Center for Education on Social Responsibility at Leeds School of Business.

Pictured (L-R): Mark Meaney, Carla Fredericks, and Dave Archambault II