Over the month of June, I have been able to spend time on my family home in Cherokee, North Carolina – home of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. When I think of my home, I am reminded of the Thomas Wolfe quote from Look Homeward, Angel: “The mountains were his masters. They rimmed in life. They were the cup of reality, beyond growth, beyond struggle and death. They were his absolute unity in the midst of eternal change.”
I love the mountains of Western North Carolina, and particularly the Cherokee Indian Reservation, officially known as the Qualla Boundary. It was great to see my friends and learn about all the things that I’ve missed. It was terrific to see businesses flourish, and economic development projects that were just under discussion when I lived there now become full-blown e
conomic drivers. Going home is an on-the-ground reminder of the work we do every day to improve the livelihoods of our communities, from the Bering Strait to the Qualla Boundary. My June and July travels took me beyond North Carolina, too. I attended and represented the National Center at US Department of Commerce’s Select USA Investment Summit, just outside of Washington, DC. There were over 3,000 attendees, and over $600 million in new Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) was announced at the conference. As the only native organization at the conference, we were able to open the door to and facility high-level discussions about the many FDI opportunities in Indian Country. The Citizen Potawatomi Nation was the only tribe represented and its economic development director, Dr. James Collard, spoke on a breakout panel. International commerce and trade offers tremendous untapped potential for Indian Country. We look forward to continuing our work with the Department of Commerce to ensure Indian Country can access these opportunities.
Last week, we hosted the latest Young Entrepreneur Summit (YES!) at United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) National Conference in San Diego. YES! is designed to inspire Native youth to pursue their dreams in business and entrepreneurship. This was the largest YES! event in the National Center’s history, with over 2,000 attendees in the general session. YES! hosts were Becca Lynn and Dyami Thomas, and the program featured Sam McCracken, General Manager and visionary of Nike’s N7 Fund. We also enjoyed interactive programming from REAL Entrepreneurship, owned by the Sequoyah Fund, which is a Native CDFI, to go along with breakout sessions specifically on entrepreneurship and business development. It was wonderful to partner with UNITY for the YES! summit as we continue the great collaboration between our two organizations.
The National Center continues to provide services and support to our communities, tribally owned businesses, and entrepreneurs. As we mentioned last week, on July 24 th we will host our first Native Edge Institute (NEI) in New Mexico. We still have seats available for this great event, which is powered by KeyBank Foundation. We will not only have great training sessions and consultation opportunities, but NEI will feature roundtables with matchmaking opportunities from the Department of Energy. If you are in New Mexico or not far away, we would love to have you join – but don’t wait to register!
The New Mexico NEI is only our first of these events – we are soon opening registration to our NEI event in Seattle, supported by Artic IT and Microsoft. It will be held on the Microsoft Campus in Redmond, WA. This NEI will be focused on Technology, and availability will be limited. There will be talks by David Emerald, author of “The Power of TED,” as well as Lillian Sparks Robinson, former administrator at the Department of Health and Human Service’s Administration for Native Americans (ANA). Lillian is also a Board Member of the National Center. As a perk for registering early, the first 20 to sign up will get a behind-the-scenes tour of Microsoft’s Redmond Campus.
We will continue our work on behalf of Indian Country. We thank you for your continued support.