A Message from Our President – September 2019

For the last 11 years, the National Center has honored the best and brightest young leaders in Indian Country through the Native American 40 under 40 award program. Over 400 men and women are now part of this growing family, which includes tribal leaders, entrepreneurs, attorneys, doctors, teachers and professors, artists and entertainers, athletes, journalists, a Congresswoman, chefs, and many others. It has truly been an honor to follow the development of this incredible group and welcome its new members every year.

We received our first introduction to the 2019 class at our recent Awards Gala, which was held at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix, Arizona. It was a great event to honor the newest members of the 40 under 40 club. As always, this year’s class is an impressive group, hailing from 18 states and Washington, DC, with over 30 tribal affiliations represented. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to learn more about this year’s honorees.

The Awards Gala celebrated more than just our 40 under 40 winners. We also honored two recipients of our American Indian Business Scholarships. Jamy Malone, who is Navajo and majoring in Organizational Leadership and Entrepreneurship at the University of New Mexico, won the Ongweoweh Scholarship. Gabe Garcia, who is Tohono O’odham and working on a Masters in Global Technology at Arizona State University, won the National Center’s Scholarship. Congratulations to Jamy and Gabe and best of luck in their studies and future endeavors.

I’m also continuously impressed by what current Native American and Alaska Native-owned businesses are accomplishing. We highlighted one of those businesses – Iron Woman Construction and Environmental Services – in our latest newsletter. Iron Woman, which is a construction and environmental services firm, is committed to environmental sustainability, and has been for its entire 20-year history. We are proud to work with this great company and very proud of its accomplishments.

In mid-September, I spent some time in our nation’s capital to advocate for key Native American and Alaska Native programs at the Small Business Administration, as well as the passage of important economic development legislation for Indian Country. I was also in DC during Bristol Bay Wild Salmon Week, where over 25 restaurants served wild sockeye salmon from Bristol Bay, Alaska. Salmon are central to the millennia-old culture of many Native Alaskan tribes and villages, and it was an honor to support this great event. I also really enjoyed getting to catch up with one of the strongest voices for Alaska Natives in Congress, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), during Bristol Bay Native Corporation’s Bristol Bay Wild Salmon Celebration.

We have some exciting events coming up over next several months, especially if you are you looking to do business with tribally owned casinos and government. On December 10th, we are partnering with the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) in a one-day training in San Diego called N2N: Building the Native to Native Economy. This event will not only feature training via our Native Edge Institute program but also incorporate matchmaking between tribally owned casinos and Native businesses that want to work in the gaming industry. We will also have banks and lenders in attendance to discuss financing options. Registration will open the first week of October – so stay tuned!

Finally, though I know it seems like we just finished RES 2019, it’s never too early to start thinking about RES 2020. It will take place form March 1 – 5, once again at Paris Las Vegas. Registration is now open, and you can learn more about travel and hotel arrangements, the procurement expo, how to become an exhibitor or artisan, and much more by clicking here. I shared the latest on RES with Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), who represents Las Vegas in Congress. She’s excited that RES calls her own District 1 home, and I hope she’s able to participate in RES in March.


Chris James
President and CEO
The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development

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