The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED) is a great organization that builds capacity, networking and business opportunities for tribal businesses. For over 25 years, NCAIED has hosted the Reservation Economic Summit (RES), most of that time in Las Vegas, I don’t recall if it has been every year but it is a venue bustling with activity and risk taking so it is well suited to the high energy experience of RES. When I attend RES, I am so impressed by the relationships among the tribal and business partners and the incredible business acumen and financial knowledge of all the Native people who attend. Businesses and governments want to do business with tribes and individually owned Indian businesses and help create a great networking and educational opportunity. It is an economic development and networkers dream.
More tribal educators should attend. Not only do we have the opportunity to learn more about business development but the strong linkages between lifelong education and workforce education need to be cultivated. Many tribes still need the most basic infrastructure to be built in their communities, many tribes still have incredibly and heartbreakingly high unemployment. The experiences of poverty of our families need this infrastructure and employment opportunities that could be built on that infrastructure in order for us to live in healthier and more productive environments.
Tribal educators and tribally controlled institutions are vital to the well-being of a significant number of reservation based families and communities. Tribal colleges and universities in particular are able to serve as facilitators and conduits for economic development and building of enterprises of all sizes and with greater diversity. Sustainable reservation based economies come from the gathering of resources and TCUs are fine role models for meeting demand with limited resources. Sustainable economies ensure both the production of goods and services and the opportunity to spend generated revenue such as profits and salaries in the communities.
Learn more about NCAIED and the TCUs. You can learn more about TCUs at www.aihec.org.