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Tribal Economic Zones

Showing the inflow of economic activity into select reservations over time

January 17, 2024

Tribal Economic Zones

The inflow of economic activity into a community is one important measure of the health of the local economy. The Tribal Economic Zones tool provides insights on the distances people travel to places-of-interest (POIs) on reservations and the industries of those POIs. The tool also illustrates how distances traveled to POIs have changed over time for a given reservation. These measures shed light on not only local reservation economies, but also the interconnectedness of tribal and regional economies.

About the tool

The data

All data displayed in the tool were derived from data on people’s movements between their home locations and POIs supplied by Advan Weekly Patterns. Data reflect weekly visitation counts and distances traveled to POIs including national parks, businesses, cultural sites, and other locations of interest. Visits include all visitors, including both employees and customers.

To be a counted as a visitor to a POI, a person must have a smartphone and have downloaded one of more than 1,000 applications that share data with Advan. Users opt in to share anonymized location data.

Advan calculates distances between home locations and POIs. Home location is determined based on the location where the visitor’s smartphone spent the most time in a given month.

Using 2018 shapefiles from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Center for Indian Country Development assigned a POI to a reservation if its physical location was within the geographic boundaries of a federally recognized American Indian reservation or off-reservation trust land area. Reservations with insufficient data (low POI visit counts) were removed. POIs with fewer than five weekly visits were excluded from our distance calculations due to data-reliability issues.

The weekly average distance for a reservation is calculated by taking the visit-weighted average of median distances traveled to each of a reservation’s POIs.


  • Average distance traveled to places of interest provides an approximation of the average distance people traveled to POIs on that reservation in the past year. The radius of the circle around the centroid of a reservation illustrates a 52-week moving average from April 18, 2022, through April 17, 2023. This distance broadly captures the inflow of economic activity into a reservation.
  • Visit shares by industry reflect the fraction of visitors traveling to POIs in a particular type of industry from April 18, 2022, through April 17, 2023. POIs were categorized based on two-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. “Professional” includes professional, scientific, and technical services. Industries in the “other services” category include information, education, arts and entertainment, public administration, and other services.
  • Average distance traveled to places of interest over time reflects a time-series average of the distance people traveled to POIs on a given reservation from January 7, 2019, through April 17, 2023. This information can offer insights on seasonal variation. Each data point is a four-week moving average of the weekly average distance for a particular reservation.