‘Your Network Is Your Net Worth’: The Native Business Summit Is Underway, Building Bridges Across Indian Country

Sunlight bathed the verdant green fairways at Cherokee Hills Golf Club, where the Native Business Summit kicked off with the Native Business Golf Classic Monday morning. The friendly competition and networking opportunity marked the first day of the inaugural Native Business Summit, currently underway at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma, from May 13-15th.

At last night’s Opening Welcome Reception held at the Hard Rock Resort Pool, DJ emcee one, a.k.a. Marcus Anthony Guinn, and host Chance Rush raised the energy, while Tribal and Native business leaders leveraged the opportunity to network with people from across Indian Country from Alaska to Florida.

Chance Rush (left), an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota, hosted the Opening Welcome Reception, and DJ emcee one, a.k.a. Marcus Anthony Guinn (right), a citizen of the Potawatomi Nation of Oklahoma, kept things lively with a great selection of music. (Photo by Henry Wei for Native Business Magazine)

When Native Business Magazine Founders and Publishers Gary and Carmen Davis took the stage to deliver welcoming remarks, a central message reverberated throughout the venue: that Native people possess the ability, talent and wherewithal to pursue and fulfill their dreams; launch and sustain successful business ventures; and drive economic development opportunities to empower themselves, their families and their communities. And it is through solidarity and lifting up other Native people that Indian Country will prosper.

“Somebody walked up to me today and said that now, the whole idea and concept of being an entrepreneur is really tangible to them — to be sovereign, self-sufficient and sustainable, and that their destiny is up to them,” said Gary Davis (Cherokee), Publisher of Native Business Magazine. “Every single one of you, if you look around the room, is an example of that. Together, we’re better. Together, we can do more, we can accomplish, we can achieve more, we can go further.”

Crowd clapping while Native Business Publishers Gary and Carmen Davis delivered opening remarks at the Opening Welcome Reception on Monday, May 13, 2019, on day one of the Native Business Summit. (Photo by Henry Wei for Native Business Magazine)

The Native Business Summit aims to drive the business conversation forward in Indian Country. In order to do that, people must come together. Native Business does that through Native Business Magazine, the Native Business Summit, and through two new media platforms launching at the Summit: the Native Business Podcast and Native Business TV.

“Every way we can think of to synergistically bring people together to have a conversation around entrepreneurship and economic development in Indian Country, to advance our communities across Indian Country, to help our Native entrepreneurs find more opportunities and business success — that’s what we’re here to do, and that’s what we want to showcase and spotlight,” Gary said.  

The AMERIND Risk team watches Native Business Magazine Publishers Gary and Carmen Davis deliver opening remarks. (Photo by Henry Wei for Native Business Magazine)

Ayla Medrano, Executive Director of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma (AICCO), also offered welcoming remarks, sharing the Chamber’s commitment to fostering a cohesive community of Tribal business leaders and Native entrepreneurs across the state of Oklahoma.

“We are thankful to the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma for their support. The mission of the Chamber, which recently celebrated its 25th year, is aligned with Native Business: When we support one another, we all do better,” said Carmen Davis (Makah), Publisher and Executive Editor of Native Business Magazine.  

Gary added: “We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the Cherokee Nation and our presenting sponsor Cherokee Nation Businesses, as well as our other great sponsors, who have in our inaugural year, I would say unprecedentedly, shown their support and invested in this Summit to make sure we’re doing great things for Indian Country, at this scale and at this caliber.”

Triana Browne, a member of the Chickasaw Nation and Miss Oklahoma USA 2019 and second runner-up at the recent Miss USA Pageant in Reno, Nevada, takes a photo at the Opening Welcome Reception of the Native Business Summit. Triana will host Native Business TV at the Native Business Summit. (Photo by Henry Wei for Native Business Magazine)

Over the next two days at the Native Business Summit, attendees will hear from dynamic presenters and listen to panel discussions that address pivotal business topics in Indian Country — from industrial hemp to how Tribes are leveraging sovereignty to overcome federal roadblocks and self-determine their energy future.

A diverse range of sessions will address topics such as corporate diversity, professional development, gaming, cybersecurity, strategic marketing for small businesses, finance, government contracting, the growing farm-to-table movement in the food industry, broadband, the importance of establishing a business succession plan, e-commerce, modernizing Tribal economies and more.

Throughout the Summit, people will build bridges and form new business relationships. “Your network is your net worth,” Gary said, “and that’s what we’re building here at the Native Business Summit.”

The crowd watches welcome remarks onstage at the Opening Welcome Reception on May 13, 2019, on day one of the Native Business Summit. (Photo by Henry Wei for Native Business Magazine)