Mesa, Ariz. April 29, 2013 – Following the success of the National Reservation Economic Summit (National RES) Las Vegas 2013 this past March, the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED) announces that it will continue to expand its RES brand with regional events throughout the nation. Its next RES event this year will be “RES California,” an exciting new three-day event to be held from June 17 -19, 2013, at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, CA.
The theme of RES California is “Sustaining Economic Momentum,” and the NCAIED will do just that by offering an all inclusive RES event that will feature business leaders from across Indian Country and provide a variety of activities aimed at fostering small business, enterprise, and leadership development. RES California activities will begin with the, “National Center Golf Classic” at the beautiful, Journey at Pechanga Golf Resort on June 17, 2013.
Similar to the NCAIED’s National RES event, the Regional RES events will provide the same attention to national and global business topics impacting Indian Country, but in a thoroughly focused and intimate setting. Regional RES events will be held in various tribal communities throughout the country to encourage partnerships, teaming relationships and increase business opportunities in Indian Country. RES participants are offered learning sessions focused on specific topics relevant to business and geared toward enhancing business opportunities.
The featured keynote speaker at RES California is former NYFD Chief Richard Picciotto. Chief Picciotto is the highest-ranking NYFD firefighter to survive the collapse of the World Trade Center. His keynote is entitled, Last Man Down and he addresses what happened on 9/11 and how he and his group of firefighters worked inside the burning World Trade Center to evacuate everyone; eventually leading his men to safety.
When it comes to business and networking across Indian Country in the United States, the National Reservation Economic Summit (National RES) has been the place to go for 27 years. And we made sure we didn’t miss out this year, with CEO Karen Caruso flying out to Las Vegas to attend.
The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED), which produces and hosts National RES each year, believes that Native businesses have ample capability – and every reason – to trade globally. The NCAIED invested in this belief wholeheartedly within the past year, by founding the Native American Global Trade Center.
And the NCAIED has invited several renowned and powerful thinkers to Las Vegas this week to reveal the economic possibilities that await Tribal Nations on the international stage.
The summit website states: ” The National Reservation Economic Summit is an ideal setting in which to hone the near-term progress of the Native American Global Trade Center, and exchange ideas at this exciting time of Native Business expansion onto the global stage. Input and collaboration is encouraged!”
The summit is running March 11th – March 14th, and you can take a closer look at the full agenda here.
We’re certainly excited to be participating, and are having a great time at the sessions, making the most of the networking and enjoying the Vegas entertainment (photo on the right provides a sneak peek).
The final afternoon of the 2013 National Reservation Economic Summit brought the proceedings full circle, with a concluding keynote address that reminded attendees about lessons from Cahokia, and the enduring theme of this year’s Summit: Honoring Our Past – Defining Our Future.
“Throughout Native history, we’ve been told many versions of who we are,” began Jim Gray, former Chief of the Osage Nation, as he half-jokingly posted images of a Victoria’s Secret model and entertainer Gwen Stefani, dressed as Indians. “If we don’t grab our story, and we let others do it for us, what happens is people think we don’t exist, that what we are is there for other people to define.”
Crosslin Smith, Cherokee, offers the final prayer of RES 2013 as NCAIED staffers and iPad giveaway winners look on from the stage.
Gray went on to remind attendees of a true story from our history: the Cahokia. Few doubt the reasons the Mississippian culture flourished: waterways facilitated trade, and precious minerals abounded. The Mounds represent the largest archeological site in North America north of Mexico. By 1,000 AD, the community in and around the mounds boasted large communal plazas, grand architecture, elaborate pottery and established religious, ceremonial and residential infrastructure. By AD 1250, Cahokia was larger than London. Corn was grown in such abundance that it fed up to 20,000 people – and yielded a surplus. The culture was so powerful that it is believed to spread throughout the surrounding region and into the Midwest.
“What it was is the Wall Street of its day,” Gray said, “that era that so many of us, genetically, are still connected to. I hope you can see the connection to us. That was who we were, and that’s who we are. We owe it to ourselves, and we owe it to those people who we are descended from, to get that story right.”
The final day of the 27th Annual National Reservation Economic Summit was many things. Chief among them, it was a day for Native women.
A model exhibits a creation at the Women’s Runway Fashion Show at RES 2013.
Easily a thousand attendees had already arrived for lunch and applauded loudly when a speaker from the Native American Financial Services Association, a major RES sponsor, lauded the recent passage of the Violence Against Women Act, meant to protect Native women from abuse by non-Native offenders. Cherokee singer Tabitha Fair wowed the crowd with a soulful, empowering performance. Roxie Schescke, Rosebud Sioux, won the NCAIED’s National Native Women Business Owner of the Year award, and was moved to tears when she looked off the stage to find a heartfelt standing ovation. And the entire Southern Ballroom at Mandalay Bay was awestruck by the creative designs of Transformed and Touch of Culture at the RES 2013 Women’s Fashion Show.
The feminine focus continued into the afternoon with a special panel called Women in Business, where half a dozen female, Native, entrepreneurial trailblazers described their experiences for a mostly – but not completely – female audience.
Normally, on the fourth day of a conference, you would expect attendance at the talks to wane. Not so at RES 2013. A morning session on entrepreneurship packed Mandalay Bay’s Islander Ballroom with an eager crowd of current and prospective Native business owners.
They came to learn from an attorney well-versed in Native corporate laws as well as three successful entrepreneurs who have built businesses from their birthrights and their ingenuity.
Lori Nalley and Ben Jacobs, both Native Entrepreneurs, shared their experiences in a well-attended talk at RES 2013 on Thursday.
Lori Nalley, Muskogee Creek, is the CEO of Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Tiger Natural Gas. She started her company in 1991, after taking the bold step of approaching her employer about minority set-asides she’d been noticing in the natural gas and electricity business.
“I thought, I’m Muskogee Creek. I’m a woman,” Nalley told attendees. “I was a single mother raising my son, and I had to support him. I got up enough gumption to go into the man I was working with and put my business idea to him. He put his faith in me. He trusted me.”
Together, Nalley and her employer started going after federal contracts. The she started hearing abot the federal 8a program, through the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“It really does truly work,” she explained. “It’s a nine-year program and it’s designed to help you get business and grow … then to get you off government business and to get you into the commercial world.”
Besides 8a, Nalley went after every certification she could. “I got TERO certified, state certified, BIA certified. It kind of just said, oh. This is a real business.”
Today, Nalley’s business has grown to employ 40 people, and it grossed $158 milion in 2012.
She reflects, “If I wouldn’t have had enough faith in myself to get the help that I needed, I wouldn’t be sitting here today. It’s hard work. I spent most of my life working. But I loved it. I really enjoyed it.”
If your RES 2013 conference program is dog-eared from four days of heavy use, then you’re already intimately familiar with the designs of husband-and-wife team Travis and Kristy Komacheet. The couple owns and operates Intertribal Visions Unlimited, and their art has become part and parcel to the public image of the NCAIED and RES.
Travis and Kristy Komacheet pause for a photo Wednesday at their booth in the American Indian Artisan Market.
Travis, Comanche, got his start in art as a child.
“I was one of those ADD kids, you know, a lot of energy,” he said. “My mom would sit me down in church and give me a notebook and a pencil, and I would just draw. When I was little, it was like … a hard life, a real hard life, and art and music was my escape.”
Travis and Kristy met 22 years ago (they joke that Kristy is only Comanche when she’s pregnant), and for a while they primarily explored music together. He played guitar and she played bass in a hard rock band that toured with regional and national acts, until they started a family and realized the rocker lifestyle was no longer a good fit.
At the same time, they were developing their artistic aspirations – and about 10 years ago, they found a bolt of inspiration from Native Style Design, a company run by fellow husband-and-wife team Gary and Carmen Davis.