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President’s Message – March 2023

By now, I hope you’ve made your plans to attend our annual conference, the 2023 Reservation Economic Summit. You’ll be among thousands of business leaders, government officials, entrepreneurs, artists, vendors, subject-matter experts, and many others who have one thing in mind: business! I can’t wait to get to Las Vegas to see old friends and make new ones, and learn about all of the amazing developments in Indian Country’s economy.

And if you haven’t registered, don’t worry – there’s still time. Just visit https://res.ncaied.org/ for more information and to sign up. Our agenda is being updated almost daily, so make sure to check back regularly to find out what’s in store at RES.

I’m particularly excited about one of our speakers who I will have the honor of interviewing on the main stage at Caesars. Jeff Wilke is the co-founder and chairman of Re:Build, an organization dedicated to jumpstarting American manufacturing. But you may recognize Jeff from his time at Amazon, where he worked with another notable business leader named Jeff. Wilke was CEO of Amazon Global Consumer before retiring in 2021. He led the development and implementation of some of the biggest projects for one of the world’s largest retailers, including Amazon Prime and the acquisition and integration of Whole Foods. I’m really looking forward to chatting with Jeff, who has become very involved in Indian Country, in particular tribal colleges and universities.

Jeff isn’t the only notable guest at RES 2023. Actor Mo Brings Plenty is joining us once again, as is fellow star of the silver screen Tantoo Cardinal. We’re also excited to welcome Chef Sean Sherman, who is one of the best examples of the growing Indigenous food community. Plus make sure to check out our incredible trade show, art market, and Indigenous fashion show!

We’ll have some other special guests at the Reservation Economic Summit, including many of our 2023 Class of Native American 40 Under 40 winners. The honorees seem to get more and more impressive each year, and showcase the talent found across Indian Country. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating them at RES. Click here to view our press release on the 2023 class and learn more about these young leaders.

If you can’t make RES – or even if you can! – we have a Native Edge Institute (NEI) coming up on March 16 in Funner, California. This one will focus on Suppler Diversity Business Matchmaking. In-person and virtual options are available, so register for the NEI if you want to get access to small business resources and experts in the field.

I hope to see many of you in Las Vegas in just a few short weeks!


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