From the Editor: FedEx Pressures Redskins, Non-Gaming Economic Impact, Native Business Turns 2 Years Old

Carmen Davis, an enrolled member of the Makah Nation, and also Chippewa-Cree and Yakama, weighs in on the hottest news in business from across Indian Country the week of July 1-7, and offers perspective on this pivotal moment in history.

Starting today, Native Business will publish weekly commentary about business developments to provide a news digest and reflection on what’s happening across Indian Country and why it matters. Prior to our digital transition and expansion, Native Business’ founders shared perspective on Tribal economic development and Native American entrepreneurship in the Letter From the Publishers, featured in each print edition of Native Business Magazine. These well-received commentaries connected our audience to the greater purpose of Native Business, and underscored the significance of our reports. Our digital, weekly overviews are just one more way for us to directly engage with our readers.

The fight for racial equality has risen to the forefront of the national conversation — and Indian Country may finally receive some long-overdue justice. 

Multibillion-dollar corporations including FedEx have threatened to end their sponsorships unless Washington D.C.’s NFL team retire its racist name in effect since 1933. Major retailers like Nike and Target have pulled Redskins merchandise from their shelves and e-commerce sites. 

After decades of protest by Native American groups and activists, this week, owner Dan Snyder finally agreed to conduct a “thorough review” of the Redskins’ name. 

READ MORE: Pressure From Sponsors Spurs NFL Team With Racist Name to Review its Brand 

Investors Target Sponsors to Sever Ties With DC NFL Team 

The movement to eradicate the use of racial slurs and stereotypes across the board — from professional sports teams to schools — is not separate from business. It’s not relegated to a human rights issue. Because if we don’t have control over our own representation, how can we make real and lasting change for Indian Country at large? 

How can we advocate for our sovereign rights to conduct business on our lands — the fractions of our original homelands that we hold legal claim to today — when we first have to overcome misrepresentation, miseducation and misperception? As Native Americans, we are faced with the added burden of educating society about our rights as Indigenous peoples, not to mention the surreal obligation to remind the world that we still exist today.

If we can be denigrated and reduced to a stereotype and dumbed down to a character, then we’ve lost control of every conversation and how we enter it. When we demand the takedown of derogatory names, when we refuse to be marginalized by a racial slur or image, we reclaim our narrative. When we reclaim how we’re portrayed, we empower a better future for Indian Country and this entire nation. 

Speaking of generating awareness about Tribal Nations and economies, not only existing today but thriving, an impact study released this week, underlines the economic multipliers of non-gaming Tribal business arms in Michigan. The Michigan Non-Gaming Tribal Economic Impact Study revealed that in 2019, the state’s non-gaming Tribal economic arms supported 1,847 jobs with an average wage of $45,664. Collectively, the state’s nine federally-recognized Tribes are making a statewide economic impact with non-gaming business activities to the tune of $288 million. 

READ MORE: Study: Non-Gaming Tribal Businesses in Michigan Generate $288M Economic Impact   

This demonstrates how Tribal Nations are driving enormous economic benefit to their surrounding communities and the state. Not only are these Tribes supporting livelihoods, they’re reinvesting in infrastructure and contributing to the recirculation of money in their counties, which then creates opportunity for even more economic activity and growth. 

Sharing stories like this of Tribal economic development, diversification and positive impact is central to why my husband Gary (Cherokee Nation) and I formed Native Business in the first place. We are committed to raising awareness about the wealth of ingenuity within Indian Country, and the wide array of business and economic pursuits that Tribal Nations are engaged in today. 

On July 2nd, Native Business celebrated two years of operations — two years of sharing leading-edge content with readers and listeners throughout the nation and even internationally. We have shined a light on Tribal blueprints for economic success, uplifted Native entrepreneurs, and delivered critical insights on business developments and topics of relevance to Indian Country.

READ MORE: Happy 2nd Anniversary, Native Business! Celebrating Impact, Growth & Community  

Thanks to the endorsement of our advertisers, sponsors and most importantly, our readers, we have grown and expanded tremendously in two years’ time. It is such an honor to play a vital role in advancing business across Indian Country and continuously moving the needle forward for innovation, self-sufficiency and self-sustainability. 

Native Business is more than a media company. We created Native Business to serve the greater good of Indian Country, to build bridges to opportunity and prosperity. We launched Native Business two years ago because we love our people, our Native brothers and sisters across this continent and beyond, and economic resilience and strength are pivotal to the sustenance of our cultures. Native Business is about Native American entrepreneurs and people reclaiming the narrative for how we are represented to the masses and what stories are told. Native Business is a vehicle for greater, collective Native sovereignty and power. 

We continue to grow our audience and impact via NativeBusinessMag.com, the Native Business App, Native Business Podcast, Native Business Summit and more. Please share our sites and social handles (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter) with your networks, so we bring more people together around the lively conversation of business in Indian Country. 

Much more happened the week of July 1-7 for Native and Tribal businesses. For instance, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians named an established tech company as the sportsbook provider for its three Four Winds Casinos, and Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) unveiled the logo for its first Las Vegas destination, housed within Virgin Hotels. Four Tribes applied for licenses to launch the first sportsbook operations in the Washing State. Naive Business also put the spotlight this week on the Ojibwe visionary behind the wildly popular beauty brand Cheekbone Beauty. 

READ MORE: Pokagon Band Selects Kambi to Manage Sportsbooks 

MGE Reveals Logo for its Las Vegas Destination, Names Strategic New Hires 

Four Tribes File for First Sports Betting Licenses in Washington 

Cheekbone Beauty Goes Beyond Cosmetic Appeal 

Each week across Indian Country, business transpires, grows and evolves; Tribes break into new industries and expand their footprint beyond their geographic borders; and Native entrepreneurs power forward with adaptability, resourcefulness, originality and creativity. 

It’s an honor to continue spreading the word about Tribal and Native business activity — covering both the challenges and victories of Tribal governments, enterprises and Native entrepreneurs. 

I look forward to providing you with these weekly reflections on the current state of affairs of business in Indian Country. Meanwhile, Native Business will continue to deliver news and insights to you each and every day. 

Onward! 

Carmen Davis is a proud Native American woman and member of the Makah Nation and also from the Chippewa-Cree and Yakama Tribes. She is extremely devoted to her culture and has spent her professional and personal life impacting Native communities across North America. Carmen is the Founder, Publisher and Executive Editor of Native Business Magazine, president of Davis Strategy Group and owner of the Native Style clothing brand.
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