Native Business Awards Announced! Presentations Taking Place at Native Business Virtual Summit

The five Native Business Awards include: Tribal Sovereignty Champion of the Year Award, Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Business of the Year Award, Tribal Enterprise of the Year Award, and Native Disruptor of the Year Award.

Native Business is excited to announce the inaugural recipients of the Native Business Awards! 

Five awards will be presented to five recipients at the Native Business Virtual Summit, taking place November 17-20, noon to 3:30 pm CST daily. Register at

The Native Business Awards recognize Native businesses and individuals who are rising above challenge and circumstance to advance business and protect sovereignty. The awards, to be presented annually, celebrate Natives who demonstrate courage, innovation and commitment to economic self-sufficiency and prosperity. 

The five Native Business Awards include: Tribal Sovereignty Champion of the Year Award, Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Business of the Year Award, Tribal Enterprise of the Year Award, and Native Disruptor of the Year Award. 

We are proud to reveal the 2020 Native Business Award honorees: 

Tribal Sovereignty Champion of the Year Award

Over the last year, Chairman Mark N. Fox has demonstrated such impressive devotion to the preservation of Tribal sovereignty that we felt his efforts merited recognition as the Tribal Sovereignty Champion of the Year award recipient. 

Accordingly, Native Business recognizes Mark N. Fox, Chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation (MHA Nation) for his extreme dedication to protecting and defending Tribal sovereignty this past year. 

The Tribal Sovereignty Champion of the Year Award recognizes an individual(s) who has fought to protect Tribal sovereign rights. Upholding Tribal sovereignty and demanding respect for Tribal treaty rights requires a tremendous amount of energy, perseverance and resilience be deployed. 

The Tribal Sovereignty Champion of the Year Award honors their great investment of time, energy and resources to defend Tribal sovereignty, and acknowledges the powerful ripple effect of those efforts and advocacy for all of Indian Country and generations to come. 

“Chairman Fox demonstrates perseverance and devotion to protecting, defending and upholding Tribal sovereignty. MHA Nation has faced seemingly insurmountable challenges, particularly since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The MHA Nation is battling its sovereign right to property and mineral rights below the Missouri River on its Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota, while contending with issues such as dual taxation that impedes Tribal economic development and the devastating financial impact of the drop in global oil demand and prices on its reservation oil business. MHA Nation has faced the burden of defending Tribal sovereignty while simultaneously working to protect the health and welfare of Tribal citizens amid a global pandemic,” said Gary Davis (Cherokee Nation), Founder, Publisher and CEO of Native Business. “The fortitude and resolve of Chairman Fox to defend their Tribal sovereignty despite an onslaught of senseless attacks against them, and throughout a global health crisis, merits recognition and praise. His defense of sovereignty not only supports the well-being of their Tribe and the proliferation of their culture, it sets a precedent for all of Indian Country.” 

Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Native Business presents the Entrepreneur of the Year Award to JC Seneca, Founder of Tallchief Hemp, Native Pride Travel Plaza and Six Nations Manufacturing. 

The Entrepreneur of the Year Award celebrates and champions the continuation and proliferation of one of the most traditional activities we as Native people can engage in, entrepreneurship. Our ancestors across Turtle Island have demonstrated self-sovereignty since time immemorial. The Native Business Entrepreneur of the Year carries on this pursuit of self-sufficiency, while seeding generational prosperity.

Native Business presents the Entrepreneur of the Year Award to a Native entrepreneur who is asserting self-determination to build their visions and achieve their dreams. This entrepreneur strengthens the economic ecosystem of Indian Country, in turn inspiring others with their resilience and leadership. 

JC Seneca, a member of the Seneca Nation, started his first business in 1987, selling 60 cartons of cigarettes from his camper. He transformed that operation into a 50-acre property and truck stop called Native Pride Travel Plaza, which today houses a smoke shop, gas station, high-speed Diesel pumps and a popular diner on Seneca territory in Irving, New York. 

He also developed and trademarked his own brand of cigarettes: BUFFALO Cigarettes, which he produces at his tobacco plant, Six Nations Manufacturing — self-capitalized with the income created through his retail business. Most recently, he added Tallchief Hemp to his portfolio of businesses.

“JC Seneca has mastered the vertical integration of businesses. His operations are completely self-sufficient, and revenue from one is funneled to capitalize the next. Mr. Seneca’s businesses experienced an uptick amid the pandemic, and he increased pay for his employees at Native Pride Travel Plaza, who have worked diligently and longer hours to protect the health of customers while adhering to social distancing measures. Mr. Seneca’s successful execution of his entrepreneurial vision and strategic leadership make him the perfect candidate to receive our Entrepreneur of the Year Award,” said Carmen Davis (Makah/Chippewa-Cree/Yakama), Founder, Publisher and Executive Editor of Native Business. 

Business of the Year Award

Native Business presents our Business of the Year Award to Allen G. Cadreau, Founder and CEO of Indian Energy, LLC. 

The Business of the Year Award goes to a Native American-owned and operated business that is committed to innovation, excellence and executing its vision. Native American-owned businesses are essential to the growth and prosperity of Native economies in addition to workforce development. The Business of the Year Award champions a Native American business that is excelling despite potential hindrances to market entry and growth for Native Americans. This award celebrates the success of one Native American-owned and operated business and its contributions to the advancement of Indian Country and diversity of the national economy. 

Indian Energy, LLC, founded in 2009, is committed to a lifelong mission: empower Tribal communities with the technical support to own and operate their own energy infrastructure to serve their own citizens. The firm also sells power to military installations and off-reservation communities. Clients include the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), Community Choice Aggregators and Tribal Utility Authorities. A certified Small Business Enterprise and a Minority-owned Business Enterprise, Indian Energy counts domestic offices in Anaheim Hills and San Diego, California, and internationally in Baja Norte California, Mexico. The Company has 4GW of Solar PV and Wind, and 6GWh of energy storage under development. 

“Indian Energy, LLC, is demonstrating innovation in the energy sector at an unprecedented scale, creating energy storage and microgrid solutions for Tribal Nations and DOD clients, and ultimately playing a vital role in advancing the United States’ energy sovereignty,” Gary said. 

Tribal Enterprise of the Year Award

Native Business presents the Tribal Enterprise of the Year Award to Chuck Garrett, CEO of Cherokee Nation Businesses. 

The Tribal Enterprise of the Year Award recognizes an economic arm or business generating revenue and creating essential jobs for a Tribal Nation. This enterprise may sustain the Tribal economy, or contribute to its diversification and long-term resilience. The Tribally Owned Enterprise of the Year recognizes supreme leadership, clarity of mission, and performance excellence. 

Cherokee Nation Businesses (CNB) is the economic engine of Cherokee Nation, employing 11,000 people in 49 states and posting annual revenues over $1 billion. A recent report by economists at Oklahoma City University shows the Tribe has an economic impact of approximately $2.2 billion across Eastern Oklahoma. 

Through its international expansion initiative, Cherokee Nation Businesses has expanded globally with several thousand professionals working throughout the United States and around the world, including introducing a CNB office in Abu Dhabi, the Capital of the United Arab Emirates. 

“Cherokee Nation Businesses has achieved success across multiple business sectors. CNB’s diversified business interests include gaming and hospitality, as well as government contracting in the information technology, security and defense, real estate, manufacturing, construction and health care industries. CNB has set the bar for building and growing a robust and diversified Tribal economic portfolio,” Gary said. 

Native Disruptor of the Year Award

Native Business presents the Native Disruptor of the Year Award to Clara Lee Pratte, CEO of Strongbow Strategies.

The Native Disruptor of the Year Award honors a person or people stirring things up and challenging the status quo. A Native Distruptor exemplifies the spirit of innovation. She is driven by a desire to adapt in the face of change or adversity, reinvent outdated systems, and better the world around them. The Disruptor of the Year is a mover and shaker revolutionizing the very landscape of policy or business for the benefit of everyone. Their mission may make them susceptible to criticism or resistance, yet they push forward anyway, knowing that change is not always welcome but entirely necessary for evolution and success. 

Strongbow Strategies is a multi-disciplinary firm that supports agencies and private companies in need of IT and cyber security support, GIS services, emergency management and even facilities support. Prior to launching Strongbow in 2013, Pratte, Diné, spent much of her career working in the public sector. She has served as the national director of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Native American Affairs, as chief of staff for Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, and as executive director of the Nation’s Washington, D.C., office. She recently served as the Tribal Engagement Director for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. 

“Clara Pratte has excelled across business, federal government and political advocacy. She boldly communicates her vision and mission, and tirelessly stands for justice in the face of adversity. She personifies the positive Native Disruption that is so needed across Indian Country in order to break down barriers and advance prosperity for future generations of Native people,” Carmen said.