From the Editor: Why ‘Embracing Innovation to Empower Indian Country’ Inspired the 2020 Native Business Summit

“Opportunity is limitless, if we dare to innovate,” says Native Business Executive Editor Carmen Davis (Makah/Chippewa-Cree/Yakama).

What defines strong leadership in times of uncertainty? What bolsters resilience and emboldens the future of Indian Country?


Challenging times are an invitation to blaze new trails forward. Responding to health, societal, market, business and institutional disruption requires that we innovate. We cannot rest on our laurels and continue down the same well-worn paths, waiting for “normalcy” to return. We must meet disruption with disruption to what was the status quo. What worked no longer works, and the future landscape of business and very fabric of society are already altered forever. 

In many ways, Indian Country has been on the leading edge of innovation. Yet other times, we have a tendency to cling to our stubbornness — to do things the way we’ve always done them, as if that is a badge of honor. It’s resistance to innovation that causes our stagnation, and sometimes, our regression. When we only look to the past, we unintentionally forsake the future. And truly honoring the past demands we reimagine and reinvent. 

We too often forget that our ancestors were the original innovators — whether they were nomadic and adapting to the shifting weather patterns and food sources, or building and advancing Indigenous epicenters of commerce and trade, such as Cahokia or Tenochtitlán

Amid a global pandemic and economic fallout, it is too easy to succumb to a defeatist mentality. But it’s times like this when true leaders emerge. In times of hardship, industry changing businesses are born

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way” has never been more true. 

Opportunity is limitless, if we dare to innovate. 

Diversity in the Marketplace

Innovation doesn’t look one way. It’s relative not just to an industry but to an individual. When you cultivate and continuously grow your core capabilities alongside your expression and dynamism as an individual, it strengthens the collective. I am sure you have heard this before, “when one of us does better, we all do better.” It is true.

When a particular goal or milestone is accomplished, it raises the bar of expectation and creates new opportunity for future feats and ventures. You may have been put here on earth to do something that nobody else has ever done. By embracing your purpose and living your truth, you are bound to achieve great things. And when you rise to new levels, it pushes us all to do better.  A rising tide, lifts all ships.

Enhancing your gifts and skill sets to contribute to diversification and the greater good of our villages and communities has always been part of the traditional operating procedure of Indian Country. Accordingly, communities do not thrive because one business owner is doing the exact same thing as the next entrepreneur or leader. Individuality breeds nuance and healthy competition, and that creates diversity in the marketplace. 

The most rudimentary definition of an economy is keeping a dollar in a community seven times over, before it leaves and goes someplace else. When enough businesses are operated by both Tribal Nations and spirited, self-motivated Native entrepreneurs, businesses and people can spend their money in our communities and we can collectively grow our Tribal Nations across Indian Country. That’s one of the greatest lessons we can extract from our ancestors who built Cahokia and Tenochtitlán and other great Indigenous epicenters of commerce, where our people united and worked together in harmony. Driving and realizing those economies of scale requires embracing the fact that, innately, we are visionaries. And more importantly that we were, and still are, able to execute epic self-sustaining and unprecedented projects and initiatives.

Supporting Visionaries & Positive Disruption 

Supporting those who dare to take leaps, source the courage to innovate, and challenge what has always been done is the way to empower Indian Country forward. The visionaries, innovators and disruptors are the ones who keep Indian Country, and the industries we engage in, evolving and improving. The next generations are the beneficiaries of our commitment to innovation. 

How can you do it better? More efficiently? More creatively? 

The Native Business Virtual Summit 2020 broadcast will take place November 17-20, 2020, live streamed from the Native Business production studios. The Native Business Summit is presented by Native Business, the only 100% Native American-owned media and events company focused exclusively on business in Indian Country. Native Business Founders and Publishers Gary and Carmen Davis will serve as the hosts of this year’s Summit. Register now at

The Native Business Virtual Summit 2020 live broadcast will shine a light on these transformational thinkers across Indian Country — Tribal leaders, business and corporate executives, and Native entrepreneurs who inspire us to rethink what it means to adapt and charge forward. The Summit will feature more than 30 speakers and presenters, sparking a dialogue about ways to innovate, enhance, evolve and implement new ideas in a radically different world. It will add great value to attendees, both personally and professionally. 

The theme of our 2nd annual summit is “Embracing Innovation to Empower Indian Country.” 

READ MORE: Native Business Virtual Summit 2020: Embracing Innovation to Empower Indian Country

At Native Business, we walk our talk. The Native Business Summit state-of-the-art virtual broadcast will be live streamed to viewers across North America and around the world, from the Native Business production studios. Responding to the pandemic required we take our production aesthetic to new heights. That we not look back at what has been done in Indian Country, nor what’s currently being done — but that we revolutionize the virtual event experience moving forward. Our virtual live broadcast employs cutting-edge technology and a vetaran production crew that will deliver an impeccable and unparalleled virtual Summit. 

In addition to reimagining the attendee experience, we had to reevaluate the value-add to Summit sponsors. Challenge presented opportunity, and our solution is far more exciting and dynamic than ever before. Top-tier sponsors of the Native Business Summit will have the opportunity to air commercials throughout each day’s broadcast. Meanwhile, sponsor logos will be displayed on rotation on TV screens behind Summit hosts, myself and Gary Davis (Cherokee Nation), Founder, Publisher and CEO of Native Business. Replays and new purchases of the recorded Summit will maximize continuous sponsorship visibility. 

The Native Business Summit will additionally celebrate Indigenous ingenuity across Indian Country. We are excited to present awards to Tribally and Native-owned businesses. These prestigious honors recognize and champion Tribal sovereignty, entrepreneurship, the Native private sector, Tribal business success and innovative economic development disruption in Indian Country. 

“Embracing Innovation to Empower Indian Country” is more than a theme, it is a call to action. It is a rally cry that we will rise up higher than ever before. It is an homage to our ancestors who walked this earth before us, and it is a demonstration of bravery and self-determination for the next seven generations. Embracing innovation is an act of courage, and it empowers everyone from Native entrepreneurs to small businesses to larger corporations to Tribal enterprises to Tribal Nations to all of Indian Country and beyond. 

The Native Business Virtual Summit 2020 will take place November 17-20, 2020 from 12pm – 3:30pm CST each day. Visit for more information and to register now. 

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. And with that in mind we will keep answering the call to rise higher and achieve more out of sheer and utter respect for all of our ancestors who prayed we would!


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.