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John Harvard's Journal

Joseph P. Kalt

May-June 2002

Joseph Kalt with a horse
Joseph P. Kalt
Photograph by Stu Rosner

Home the night before from Australia, where his expertise in the economics of antitrust and regulation in the natural-resource sector was wanted, Joseph Kalt is full of beans, geniality, and patience, despite the wildly inapposite time his biological clock is telling. The Kennedy School of Government's Ford Foundation professor of international political economy talks fervently about his main concern: economic development and self-determination among American Indian tribes, of which there are about 500, mostly living in extreme poverty on 350 reservations. With two professors at the University of Arizona, he directs the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, which since 1987 has worked for and with tribes on nation-building, and which Kalt characterizes as the Indian Country equivalent of the Little Engine That Could. He teaches a University-wide course on American Indians today and nation-building—which attracts not only Indian students but those from other emerging countries—and he is faculty chair of the interfaculty Harvard University Native American Program (see "Native Americans in the Present Tense," September-October 1999, page 78). Born and raised in Tucson, he was educated at Stanford and UCLA. He, his wife, and two children have a ranch with a satellite dish in Montana, 70 miles from town, where he moves his office each summer and raises American quarterhorses. At age two, they come to the Kalt farm in Sudbury, Massachusetts, where the professor trains them for "cutting," a sport he competes in that involves steering cattle. "I go home at night," says Kalt, "and by the end of a session with the horses, I can't even remember what I was hassling about in some faculty meeting that day."