Native American Business

external image Native_American_Tribes_Wall_Map_068L.jpg

As much of the nation is unaware of its progression, the Native American population is often misjudged as being an ancient people with no current achievements or influence in today's society. However this is untrue, and can be seen in the large role that Native Americans are playing in the business world through tourism, reservation organizations, and successful training programs for Native Americans. Being represented in all forms of business, the Native Americans have overcome many obstacles and stereotypes from Non-Natives. Most importantly, Native American entrepreneurs, business leaders and organizers have developed their place in the business world while still maintaining their traditions and culture.

Grand Canyon Skywalk

As of March 28, 2007, the Hualapai Tribe, of the Grand Canyon’s western border, successfully opened the Grand Canyon Skywalk, which is a glass structure that extends 20 feet over the edge of the Grand Canyon. With about 2,000 members, the Hualapai tribe's central population is located on the Hualapai Indian Reservation, which is governed by the Hualapai Tribal Council.

Their newfound tourist attraction, which took roughly three years to construct, offers an incomparable view of the Grand Canyon from the cliffs of Eagle Point, about 4,000 feet above the ground. It is also extremely safe for all tourists, in that it can withstand over 70 tons in weight and more than 100 mile per hour winds from multiple directions. Architect and founder, David Jin, describes the structure on the attraction's international website as a dream that became a reality, which he hopes will “find balance between form, structure, and nature.”

external image Grand-Canyon-Skywalk-757692.jpg

Partnering with David Jin to see the project through, the Hualapai Tribe has shown that it does have a place in the business world. With plans to further develop the area for tourism purposes, the creation and opening of the Grand Canyon Skywalk has been one of the tribe’s greatest achievements and steps toward their goal. In addition to their accomplishment with the establishment of the structure, the Skywalk has become an industry in itself. Since its official opening to the public, the Grand Canyon Skywalk has hosted more than 200,000 guests.

On top of the initial $29.95 fee to walk across the glass structure, the Hualapai Tribe also provides parking, lodging, for an additional fee, as well as a gift shop. In combination with their plans to create an entire complex, the tribe expects to see more profits from this particular attraction than ever before. Similarly, the tribe hopes to increase reservation visits to about 600,000 people per year. Building a structure of such magnitude and strength, the first of its kind, the tribe has also brought a new technological achievement into this world.

With such a commanding presence in the Hualupai region, the Grand Canyon Skywalk has had a significant impact on Native American life since its opening. However, arguments are still present within the tribe because while much of the Hualupai are overjoyed to be recieving profits from the attraction, many believe the structure is disrupting the land. Although conflicting opinions exist, the attraction has heightened the interest in the Grand Canyon and the Hualupai tribe, as well as doubled the amount of jobs available to tribe members. In addition, the quality of life on the Hualupai reservation has substantially improved as a result of the Skywalk's success.

The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians

One tribe that has been commended on its determination and perseverance, and is now a major business powerhouse, is the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. When Europeans came over and explored what is now Mississippi in the early 1700’s, the tribe was already well known for not only generosity, but also trading and farming skills. Unfortunately, the tribe was slowly stripped of its land from the 1800’s through the early 1900’s. Unable to trade any goods and farm, the main source of their profits, they were left to live in poverty.

It wasn’t until the 1960’s that conditions became manageable and the tribe began to bring in substantial revenue to help their people. Chief Martin of the Choctaw Indians is credited as a “visionary” and truly helped his people take advantage of the times and the economic opportunity presented to them. The tribe began teaching themselves how to construct homes and eventually started their own construction company, Chahta Development. From then on, the tribe started more and more companies.

external image DSC09461-2006.07.02-08.04.30.jpg

In 1979, the tribe’s first manufacturing company opened, Chahta Enterprise, which produced materials for the company Packard Electric. In 1981, the American Greetings Corporation, the most notable greeting card manufacturer, opened a plant on the tribe’s reservation which employed over 200 people in need. From the 1980’s to the 1990’s, other companies opened including Choctaw Electronics Enterprises, Choctaw Manufacturing Enterprise, First American Printing and Direct Mail, and First American Plastic Molding Enterprise.

The tribe then spread their knowledge of business to the retail and service industries and opened the Choctaw Residential Center, a nursing home, and other businesses that include the Choctaw Office Supply, Choctaw Post Office, and Choctaw Forestry Enterprise. One of the most famous developments for the tribe is the Silver Star Resort and Casino which opened on July 1, 1994; today it is one of the largest casinos in Mississippi.

Their achievements in the world of business have impacted Native American life because hundreds of jobs were created and economic prosperity has been brought to an otherwise impoverished community. These families are able to live in today’s society, but also keep their traditional ways. The available businesses opportunities have allowed them to live a balanced lifestyle without having to struggle with modern demands.

Native American Business Alliance

The Native American Business Alliance was founded by Tom “Running Bear” Smith and three other business owners; Lee Pepion, Lloyd Milby, and Ken Barnes. All four members founded this nonprofit organization in 1995 which is currently still active today.

The Native American Business Alliance (NABA) thrives to help Native American business owners with training workshops designed to promote business opportunities, increase business skills, and share available job openings.

The people involved in this business alliance keep in contact with Corporate America to raise awareness and to educate others about the culture and traditions of Native Americans. Overall, the organization is created to help promote relationships for future Native American business owners while keeping their culture present throughout their work.

The symbol that represents this organization is a hybrid icon which symbolizes the links between the spiritual traditions of the past to the modern concerns of the Native American Business culture.
external image logoSmall.png

The NABA have many relationships and partnershipswith other corporations where they now have the opportunity to compete for contracts. Some relations that the Fortune 500 companies have include; The Coca Cola Company, General Motors Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and Walt Disney World.

The creation of the Native American Business Alliance has provided a relationship between the business community and the Native American companies. In doing so, the companies now have the opportunity to search for goods and services that will be commonly beneficial to both parties. Not only does the NABA continue to help the tribes in America succeed they still maintain the highest ethical standards that are apart of their culture. The NABA will continue to be focused in expanding the opportunities, to ensure the growth of the business for the good of the Native American people.

Works Cited