In most indigenous contexts, exogenous developmental models have not originated satisfactory effects, and development policies, often inspired by “extractivist” logics, have contributed to the expropriation of indigenous lands and to the systematic exploitation of natural resources.
Against this background, several studies have highlighted the role of indigenous economic initiatives in sustaining endogenous development processes. This paper aims at contributing to this debate, claiming that solidarity economy (SE) organizations are an effective vehicle for an indigenous self-determined process of development. More specifically, SE appears able to sustain buen vivir, an indigenous conception of well-being that, overcoming the mainstream Western conception of development based mainly on economic growth, emphasizes the importance of indigenous culture, the natural environment, and collective well-being.
This paper presents a case-study carried out in the Mexican state of Querétaro, where local SE initiatives have been analyzed with an ethnographic approach in a rural community characterized by a strong indigenous component. The results highlight the potential of SE arrangements in sustaining alternatives to development and the fundamental role of education in supporting the recovery of local culture, which constitutes the basis upon which SE projects can be implemented.