ANA PUEBLO, N.M. - American Indian businesses are the fastest growing
in America, and they are not just gaming-related, but a diverse
expansion of a wide range of businesses, said speakers at the Native
American Business Alliances annual conference.
have diversified their portfolio in a strategic way," said
Ronald Langston, national director of the Minority Business Development
Agency, an agency in the U.S. Department of Commerce.
businessmen from Canada joined American Indians from the U.S. at
the extraordinary adobe Hyatt of Santa Ana Pueblo, with a view of
the rolling hills, sage and sky, for NABAs annual conference
April 25 - 27.
the growth in Indian country, Langston said American Indian firms
grew in number by 84 percent, while all U.S. firms grew by only
7 percent, according to recent census data.
gross receipts of American Indians shot up a whopping 179 percent,
compared to 40 percent for all U.S. firms.
to the misconceptions and stereotypes in America, Langston said,
"Many people believe that this growth is because of casino
gaming, but you know that is a lie, just like all Asians know
to the diverse types of businesses across Indian country, Langston
said, "Indian country has the best diversification. This is
a great achievement, this is not an accident!"
leadership, vision and diversification during an outdoor NABA luncheon
on Santa Ana Pueblo, Langston urged American Indians to celebrate
cultural authenticity and move away from thinking of themselves
are either a winner or a whiner, youre either a victor or
the attendees were 45 Aboriginal chiefs and economic development
officers from Canada, eager to do business with American Indians
in the United States. Salmon, fashion, health products and hardwood
and plywood were among the ready Aboriginal exports from Canada.
than two-dozen Fortune 500 companies attended the conference, which
included a golf tournament at Santa Ana Pueblos Twin Warriors
Gant, Oneida Nation of the Thames of Canada and executive director
of NABA, said the convention was created to build relationships
and promote businesses as Native business people look to the future.
about coming together, whether you are an urban Indian or from the
reservation," she said in an interview with Indian Country
are now at a level where we are respected. We are now getting the
attention we deserve; the corporate sector is paying attention to
us. Its an exciting time, the businessmen are coming to us;
we need to work with government, we want to work with corporations."
hopes of establishing a NABA national office in Washington, Gant
said it is diversification that will carry Native nations forward
and secure their future for generations yet to come.
has worked in the fields of construction claims, workers compensation
and as a paralegal while serving as an alcohol and drug abuse counselor.
With a masters degree in Education, the Harvard graduate balances
more than one full-time job and also serves on the economic development
committee of her nation.
out that Indian youth need role models, Gant said, "We are
all mentors and they have to learn from us."
American Indians to get involved, Langston said the Minority Business
Development Agency provides technical and managerial services for
American Indians to access the Minority Business Development Agency
centers such as the one in Albuquerque, he said, "We want Indian
country to see themselves as owners, to set up businesses and pass
wealth on to their grandchildren. Businesses in Indian country are
under-represented in the American economy. We want to increase the
overall size of minority businesses."
said there are three keys to growth. The first is access to capital,
the second is education in financial literacy and the third is technology.
Technology includes getting involved with e-commerce as a leverage
the need for dynamic leadership in Indian country, in order to promote
Indian-owned businesses, Langston said, "Thats what I
love about Chief Phillip Martin."
the Mississippi Choctaws entrepreneurship, he said, "Its
nothing short of spectacular."
African American, said he encourages other blacks and American Indians,
to move beyond the mode of victim thinking.
cant allow ourselves to be victimized! You are either a victor
or a victim. Lets move on!"
pointed out that 60 percent of the Mississippi Choctaw work force
consists of non-Indians from the region.
at Mississippi, these are the same people that drove the Indian
people off their land, hunted them down and shot them - those are
the people they are employing now."
the speakers opening the NABA conference was Sue Williams, of the
Chippewa Industrial Development business park. She said Native youths
who attended the NABA gathering in 2002 in Detroit now have their
own businesses, one is a restaurateur and another is an artist.
NABA conference brings a global economy together for Native American
businesses," Williams said.
includes more than 200 American Indian Owned member companies. The
latest census figures indicate there are 197,000 Native American
owned businesses in the United States, which generate more than
$34 million and employ 300,000 people every year.
am here to say, we believe in Indian country. NABA can play a pivotal
role for a greater involvement in a worldwide economy," Langston
Langston said more data is needed about Indian country and people
living on tribal land. "I think we can do a lot better. I will
go anywhere I need to go."
there is a push in Washington for e-commerce, Langston said minority
businesses are not on this radar screen. "Were not in
the game and were missing in the hunt."
said Indian tribes have their own land, a ready work force and the
ability to regulate their own taxes. Solutions are needed for expansion
believe Indian country may be the solution for in-sourcing for products
made in the United States. Businesses will pursue businesses where
said the other concept that works is outsourcing, which he said
is "paying someone else to do things you dont do well.
Its not rocket science," he said, adding that it is all
about making the most efficient product for the lowest cost, resulting
in the most profit.
encouraged local businesses to partner with Indian country for things
other than gaming. "Indian country can be a strategic knowledge
center. Great organizations manage what they know. Indian country
can be a real leader."
said race and an attitude of being black matters to his people and
for American Indians, pride matters.
issue of authenticity of Indian heritage is what really matters.
I need Indian country to come to the table, no matter what tribe
you are from and work with us," he said, adding that conflicts
and tribalism can hinder progress.
is seeking a new path toward business in Indian country.
a business environment that seeks quick fixes and embraces cut-throat
tactics, [NABA] follows a different path: a path of integrity, strength
and vision," NABA said announcing the conference, sponsored
by the Daimler-Chrysler.
said its members dont dwell on a short-term view of business.
Rather, they balance immediate needs with a long-term view that
encourages awareness of how decisions affect the seven generations
the conference, American Indian business owners participated in
talking circles and discussed opportunities with tribal leaders
and corporate representatives.
of a rushed morning meal, there was a traditional breakfast of bread
freshly baked in clay ovens by members of the Santa Ana Pueblo.
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