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Hello, and I hope you’re reading this message safe and secure from the comfort of your own homes while we shelter in place. Like many Americans I am working from my home and adjusting to the “new normal” in which we all find ourselves.

The impact of COVID-19 on our daily lives has been tremendous, though it pales in comparison to the tens of thousands of families across the U.S. who have lost loved ones in this pandemic. Indian Country has not been immune to the virus, with our friends on the Navajo Nation hit particularly hard. We continue to keep them, and all of our fellow Americans, in our thoughts.

The pandemic has also changed how we operate at the National Center. We have all been working remotely for several weeks now to ensure that we are following social distancing guidelines to slow the spread of the virus. Fortunately, we were well prepared to shift our operations and continue to help the businesses and entrepreneurs we have a mission to serve. We moved our Native Edge Institutes to virtual webinars. We have already hosted two of these – one on how to access the small business assistance passed by Congress, and one just last week on accounting and workforce development best practices during the pandemic.

We will host our next virtual NEI on May 8th, where our friends from ArcticIT will join us to discuss the ever-growing importance of using the cloud in your business. You can register for that webinar here.

We have also created a COVID-19 resource page on our website. We update this page regularly with helpful links, resources, and information related to the virus, particularly how it impacts Indian Country. I encourage you to check it regularly.

While the pandemic changes how we conduct our operations, it doesn’t mean that we’re slowing down. Later this year, we will announce the 2020 class of Native American 40 under 40 recipients, as well as our Business Scholarship winners. Those applications are due on May 15 – so we hope you take a few minutes to nominate a deserving young Native leader for the 40 under 40 award, or if you’re eligible, apply for a business scholarship to further your career aspirations.

Before I conclude, it’s a truism that adversity brings out the best in people. That’s certainly true for Native American and Alaska Native owned businesses, who stepped up to help when their communities needed it.

One of these is Muscogee Technology, owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, which began making protective hospital gowns after it became clear there were shortages. They recently supplied Baptist Heath Care in Pensacola, Florida with these needed gowns. Now that’s a story worth sharing and celebrating – and it’s just one of many from across our community.

Thank you, and I look forward to seeing you soon – whether virtually or in person.


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