Papua New Guinea (PNG), in the early stages of economic development, embraces foreign investment focusing on natural resource extraction. With the majority of land ownership vested in the numerous indigenous tribes, disputes often arise between tribespeople, the government and foreign enterprises over the way in which resources are accessed. This article reviews the impact of deforestation and mining on PNG tribespeople. It illustrates that, while there are many obstacles to overcome, gradual empowerment of the people is evident in many cases as they challenge the way foreign investment projects are implemented. Understanding the impact of foreign investment and the dire situations local people experience as a result, especially when government priority is given to economic development, is vital to informing the need and processes for change.