Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation

Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board

Year

Serving tribes in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB) was created in 1972 to increase tribes’ ability to exercise control over the design and development of tribal health care delivery systems. Governed by tribal government delegates, NPAIHB facilitates intertribal coordination and promotes intergovernmental consultation. A leader in data collection and advocacy, NPAIHB also administers the first and largest tribal epidemiology center.

Resource Type
Citation

"Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board". Honoring Nations: 2003 Honoree. The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts. 2004. Report.

Permissions

This Honoring Nations report is featured on the Indigenous Governance Database with the permission of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development.

The Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations

Year

Owned by a consortium of seven tribes, the Healing Lodge is a treatment center that helps Native American youth and their families heal from the trauma of alcohol and drug abuse. With a focus on blending culture and spirituality with mental health/chemical dependency treatment, services include in-patient chemical dependency programs, mental health counseling, family counseling, a juvenile justice improvement project, recreation, education, and cultural activities. Since its creation in 1989, the Healing Lodge has served over 1,500 youth from more than 150 tribes, giving them fresh opportunities to better themselves and their communities.

Resource Type
Citation

"The Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations." Honoring Nations: 2002 Honoree. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts. 2003. Report. 

Permissions

This Honoring Nations report is featured on the Indigenous Governance Database with the permission of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development.  

ONABEN: A Native American Business and Entrepreneurial Network

Year

Founded by a consortium of Native nations in the Pacific Northwest, ONABEN's mission is to increase self-reliance by promoting the development of tribal-citizen-owned small businesses and the diversification of reservation economies. ONABEN's programs provide financial counseling, business mentoring, links to tribal efforts, referrals to start-up financing, and access to a network of experienced teachers and business people. As the ONABEN network continues to grow, its enormous value to both tribal citizens and its member nations grows as well.

Resource Type
Citation

"ONABEN: A Native American Business and Entrepreneurial Network." Honoring Nations: 2005 Honoree. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts. 2006. Report.

Permissions

This Honoring Nations report is featured on the Indigenous Governance Database with the permission of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development.

Honoring Nations: Jennifer Harris and Julia Davis-Wheeler: The Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations

Producer
Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development
Year

Representatives Jennifer Harris and Julia Davis-Wheeler of the Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations youth treatment center discuss the Lodge's genesis and how it works to strengthen the families of the seven Native nations it serves.

Resource Type
Citation

Harris, Jennifer and Julia Davis-Wheeler. "The Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations." Honoring Nations symposium. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts. September 11, 2004. Presentation.

Amy Besaw Medford:

"Next up we have Jennifer Harris, who helped participate during the Family Strengthening Symposium. She's from the Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations and is a registered nurse.

Jennifer Harris:

"I'm so short. Good morning. As that wonderful introduction that Amy gave me, my name is Jennifer Harris. I'm a registered nurse at the Healing Lodge, which is located in Spokane, Washington. We are seven consortium tribes. We are not located on a reservation; we are located in the city limits of Spokane, but on federal property. I kind of broke my talk into two sections because I wanted to touch a little bit and explain about the Healing Lodge, but I also wanted to talk about the Strengthening American Indian Families [symposium] that some of us were here for a few years ago. So I'll start with the Healing Lodge, which is a 26-bed inpatient chemical dependency treatment facility. And I'm fortunate to have one of our past board presidents -- I don't want to pick on her -- Julia Davis, here in the audience. And the presentation before was so excellent. Julia was one of the founding members of the Healing Lodge. So maybe when I'm done, she might want to come up and say a few words about how many, many years ago these tribal leaders came together with this idea and have actually seen it through to a beautiful, working program. So maybe she would be gracious enough to do that for us later. At the Healing Lodge, we have our own school, which does have a Native American Studies program. We have cultural resource people who are there available to the children. I guess I should have said that it's inpatient treatment for 13 to 17 year olds. We will take a 12 year [old] or an 18 year old; 12 if it's a dire situation and 18 if they're still enrolled in school. Their days are planned from the moment they wake up [until] the time they go to bed with education and process groups and a medical staff. They have mental health counselors, recreation specialists, the medical department. We're just one small part of this wonderful program that tries to help these youth recover from substance abuse and give them skills to go back into their communities. And when I was here -- to kind of switch gears -- when I was here for the Strengthening Families Symposium, it was something that I heard over and over again and something that I hear when people ask me where I work is, 'How do you not despair? How do you go to work and hear these stories every day, see the tears in these young ladies' eyes and young men, and know that you're sending them back to these communities and again you're powerless?' You have them for such a short period of time, which is usually 60 to 90 days, and we try to help them heal, teach them skills and hope for the best when they go back to the communities. And at this symposium, the pieces of the puzzle just went together for me. When the Healing Lodge was given honors in 2002, I was not part -- I'm still not part of the administration -- but it was the administration that was involved in the nomination process. And we have the big plaque on the wall, but not all of us know how that came to be. And being here this weekend, like I said, really put these pieces together for me. And it's the youth programs, the family violence programs, the economic development that is helping these children that I see every day. What I do on the front lines is just a small, small piece and I see this economic development and these fabulous programs as what's going to break the cycle of poverty. It's no secret that the poverty leads to addiction, abuse, violence, crime and helping these children at this stage in their life to be sober and clean and healthy is one small piece, but it is the salmon hatcheries and the revitalization of culture that is going to stop the addiction before they ever get to me. You will put me out of a job and I will gladly go because that, like I said, my light bulb went on when I was involved in the breakout sessions and hearing the speakers, that the Honoring Nations programs are what is breaking the cycle of poverty, which is bringing the self-determination, the self-governance, the revitalization of culture and what is going to eventually bring the Native American people out of poverty, out of despair and break the cycle of addiction that I see every day and help these children hold their heads high, be proud of who they are and continue to be members of a society that has in the past not been honored. So if anybody would like to hear, the story is fascinating and the web site is www.healinglodge.org and it's a beautiful facility. We do have -- and Julia will touch on this most likely -- we are run by a board and to be on the board you have to be a tribal councilperson. So our leadership is all Native, which I know is important, that we're learning about today with the self-governance and sovereignty, and we focus on Native American hiring. It's very hard, I know some of you must know that finding qualified Native people who are willing to come and work in the programs is sometimes difficult but we try to make sure that our administrator, our treatment director, the people who are making the decisions, know the Native culture and are making those decisions coming from that place. So that's kind of a nutshell of the Healing Lodge and what I've learned today. And I just want to thank everyone for all of their awesome input and what they're doing in their communities. I think it's easy to lose track of why we get up and go to work every day and the things that we do and I know you see the faces of your own children, but I see the faces of the children that I work with and some of them come from the tribes that you're representing. And knowing that, I can see like the floodgates closing and it coming to a trickle and through the generations the healing and the addiction decreasing. That's really the most important thing that I learned from being here. So I'll turn it over to Julia."

Julia Davis-Wheeler:

"There are seven tribes that belong to the consortium and that is the Umatilla Tribe in Oregon, the Kalispel Tribe in Washington, the Colville Tribe in Washington, the Kootenai, Coeur d'Alene and Nez Pierce tribe in Idaho. That's seven tribes, right? Did I say them all? Spokane. And I see our Kootenai tribal chairman just walking in the door, Gary Aitken. He's on the board and all of the tribes passed a resolution after a working group got together in 1986 and they were all tribal leaders and they wanted to do something for the kids. And that's when the omnibus drug bill was going through Congress and the focus was treatment centers for youth and at that time, in the Portland area, we didn't have any youth treatment centers. And so Mel Tonasket, Bruce Wynn, Ernie Stensgar, myself, Amy -- your mother Amy -- a bunch of others of us got a working group together and this goes back to improving tribal government and what we can do for the youth. And so what we did was we formed a consortium of tribes and we invited any tribe that was interested to come in to work with us. And we especially wanted the bigger tribes, the Yakama, the Shoshone-Bannock, and of course the Colville. The Colville, which is one of the larger tribes in Washington, decided to come in with us, but the Yakama and the Shoshone-Bannocks, because they had their own treatment centers going, decided to not come in with us. So what we did is we formed a band, if you will, of tribal leaders to get this youth treatment center and to be designated as the residential youth treatment for the Portland area. Now I need to tell you that it was not easy. It was very hard because we had the competition of the coastal tribes, if you will. And no offense against any of the coastal tribes that may be here, but they have Seattle, Portland and that corridor where they wanted to have the youth treatment center over that way instead of inland. We wanted it east of the Cascade Mountains so we could serve all of those youth and so we did have a little bit of a tug of war there and we won them over and they decided to support us to go ahead and do this treatment center. I just needed to let you know that it was a lot of work; we had a lot of meetings, continuous meetings. We met with Indian Health Service and we were finally designated as the youth treatment center group. And then we had to go through that whole rigmarole of finding a building, finding a place, finding the land, getting appropriations. I can't tell you how many times we went back to Washington, D.C. to lobby and it was like a miracle from God that we got special appropriations back in 1989. Oh, we started this in 1986, in 1986 when we formed this tribal leaders working group to do this. We knew that we wanted to do it and it was in 1989, 1990 with the help of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, some of the staff people knew what we were doing [and they felt strongly] with it and so they helped us get special appropriations, which was...that's unheard of now. Anyway, we got the appropriations to build a building. And the reason I'm saying this is we are very proud of that building. It's a brand-new facility and after we got appropriated the money then we had to find the land because the omnibus drug bill said that you had to be near a hospital, you had to be near a metropolitan area, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. We wanted to put it down in Pendleton, Oregon with the Umatilla Tribe and we were looking at buildings down there. We wanted to have it on a reservation and Indian Health Service kept telling us, 'No, you have to be near a metropolitan area.' And it was like we were hitting our heads up against a wall. We tried to have it in Coeur d'Alene. The State of Idaho does not have a good reimbursement rate for treatment beds, Medicare; it didn't work out there. We tried to do it in Washington. We were looking over on one of the reservations and there are no buildings. You all know that. There's nothing on the Indian reservations that could house a youth treatment center. So what we did was we said, 'Okay, we'll build one.' We knew we wanted to build one. So we went back, we talked to the Department of Health and Human Services and they agreed to purchase land for us. So we ended up buying four acres of land, six acres of land, within the city limits of Spokane. Now, I know a lot of our tribes in the Northwest cannot understand why we are off the reservation but we had to do that. So the residential treatment center is in Spokane, Washington, and if any of you go there I really want you to go out and look at the treatment center, it's beautiful. It's one of the best facilities in the west and it's brand new and it's out in some trees. We have a sweat lodge for the young men, we have a sweat lodge for the young women, we focus on culture, on helping those young people deal with the substance abuse and the alcohol abuse that they're going through. We have elders come in and meet with them and talk with them about, some of those kids have lost touch with their culture, they've lost touch with their spirituality. Some of them have, they're just like little babes. So we're really working with them to come back. But so that's how we ended up with the federal land, and I'm leaving a lot of other things out. We had to fight with the City of Spokane to even build that residential treatment center because the neighboring people around, they didn't want us there. They did not want us there. So we had to battle with the city, the counties, everybody, to even get that facility there. And so that's why it's so good to see that the Healing Lodge has been recognized for improving tribal governments because even though we couldn't actually do it hands-on ourselves, as tribal leaders what we could do is help all the young people that we could -- not just one tribe, but all of us tribes and help them so they don't have to go through what we see every day. And a lot of us are recovering people ourselves. I'm not ashamed to say I'm a recovering alcoholic; I've been sober now for geez, since 1988. No not '98, since 1980. So that's 20 some years. And I know Antone [Minthorn]is the chair of our Umatilla and I know he has a long time [in recovery] -- I hope you don't mind me saying that -- but there's many of us that really believe strongly in this, the Healing Lodge. And for any of you that do get a chance to come up that way, we have visitors that come from Canada. You know Charlene Belleau and Fred Johnson, those people that did the Alkali Lake video, they're interested in coming over to do some...they've gone from sobriety now to real inter-healing. They've gone from one step to another step and so we have a lot of visitors from Canada. They come and tour our facility. We've had visitors from Navajo; we've had visitors from Oklahoma, California. They all come to see our treatment center and it makes me feel really good. And I know that Gary is a member of the board and Gary, when you go back and talk to the other board members, tell them that we need to keep this going and keep it strong and invite everybody to come to the Healing Lodge and have a meeting or something there. So it was a lot of work, but it was worth it, and as Jennifer has talked about or touched on, working with those kids is an award that you're giving back as an adult to them so they don't have to go through hell, as it's said. So thank you."

Michael Taylor: The Practical Issues of Business Development - Some Things to Consider: When to Waive Sovereign Immunity (or Not)

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Tulalip Tribes' Attorney Michael Taylor explains when tribes should and should not waive sovereign immunity and why. He also discusses some effective approaches to doing limited waivers of sovereign immunity, and stresses the importance of Native nations building a track record of fair and effective use of the sovereign immunity waiver as an important tool for exercising sovereignty.

Resource Type
Citation

Taylor, Michael. "The Practical Issues of Business Development - Some Things to Consider: When to Waive Sovereign Immunity (or Not)." Building and Sustaining Tribal Enterprises seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 29, 2007. Presentation.

Michael Taylor:

"I want to say my main experience all these years has been using tribal corporations like CTEC [Colville Tribal Enterprise Corporation], which is a special kind of tribal corporation. I call it a tribal governmental corporation. What's a governmental corporation? The post office is a governmental corporation, Amtrak, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; those are governmental corporations and that's what CTEC is. And that's what Wright vs. CTEC is about, this tribal governmental corporation. But every tribe that I work with has a modern Section 17 corporation. Why? Why is this? Because, for example, over at Colville, they have this corporation. Occasionally I get calls from the rez attorney's office over there and they say, "˜Now, Mike why do we have this Section 17 corporation? We don't remember.' So I have to tell them, "˜Why do we have it?' When I went to Tulalip, they had a Section 17 corporation, it was an old one, 1930s vintage, the language was terrible. So we got another one. The original one had only one asset. It was a Superfund site, a polluted, a highly polluted Superfund site. So you don't want to put other stuff into that corporation. You need a new one because that corporation had enough stuff in it; that was the problem. Why do you need a new one? And I went to Ada Deer, I think [she] was the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs at the time, and I said, "˜I want another Section 17 corporation.' And she said, "˜You can't have one, you can only have one.' And I said, "˜Where's it say that?' So we got another one and it doesn't have anything in it either. Okay, why taxes? These forms of corporations are, it's, at this juncture, unclear as to whether the IRS considers the income of these tribal corporations as taxable. They made some moves on this some time ago and they decided that state corporations owned by tribes, whether they were wholly owned or not, the income is taxable. Corporate income tax is due on the earnings of these corporations. But they stopped and so we don't know what this, what the income of this entity is in terms of the views of the IRS. So the Section 17 Corporation sits out here as kind of a tax lifeboat. If our entity starts to sink in the troubled waters of the IRS, we move the assets to the Section 17. So don't start doing business and think you're okay without this Section 17. And if you have an old one, I think you should get a new one. It's easier to get a new one than to try to amend the old ones. That's my comment.

Sovereign immunity: when to waive it, when not to waive it. Well, how many people in here think that if you waive sovereign immunity it weakens your sovereignty? How many people think that? I would say, sometimes, at the risk of being charged with showing off, I sometimes do a push-up at this juncture right in front of the crowd. And the reason is to make the point that sovereignty is a power, sovereign immunity is a part of that power and whether you're waiving it or asserting it or writing it into an ordinance or a contract or whatever it is, you're exercising it, and indeed waiver strengthens it. It strengthens it, by actually showing that you have it and putting it out there in whatever form. So the waiver of sovereign immunity -- this is an issue with a lot of tribal people and a lot of tribal councils, they're very worried that waivers, however they're written, whether they're written sloppily, which they sometimes are, or whether they're written carefully, will somehow erode tribal sovereignty, and that's not true at all. It's an exercise of a power. Waiver is the same thing in technical legal terms as asserting it in a lawsuit or some other way. So it doesn't weaken tribal sovereign immunity...or tribal sovereignty to execute a waiver. Got it? Do I have to do the push-up? I can do it. When I go down, that's a metaphor for waiver. It strengthens me in the same fashion as when I come up. So that's my take on it. Is that right? I don't know. I made that up.

When do you waive it? When you're asked. If you're not asked don't do it. The Tulalip Tribes is a party to literally hundreds of contracts all the time. Uniform cleaners, rug cleaners, towing cars, building hotels, and when the other side comes in and says, "˜Well, here's the contract,' or asks us to write the contract, we write the contract. If the other side knows that they've got to get a waiver in order for the contract to be enforceable, then we start working on it. But if they don't, if they don't ask or they don't care, sometimes they just don't care, then we don't go up to them and say, "˜Hey, we're sovereign, you can't... if something happens under this contract to say that you have a claim against us, unless there's a waiver in here, you can't do anything about it unless we agree to it.' You have to be asked; B of A [Bank of America] always asks. They all say, "˜Oh, yeah.' I've never met a B of A guy that didn't ask. Right away, it's the first thing they ask."

Brian Spencer:

"It's a starting point. If you can't get beyond that, then we're not going anywhere. It's got to be there."

Michael Taylor:

"If it's part of the deal, then you work on it and you craft it carefully. You pay attention to what the issues are and you work on it. So the most common waivers that we have at Tulalip I'd say are major lending contracts, contracts for construction, the construction firms have now gotten savvy to this, and so they're immediately asking for a waiver. There are lots of other ways, other places where you should waive your immunity. Tribal civil rights act: you should have a tribal civil rights act. People can sue the tribe if the tribe damages them in some way and it should have a waiver in there. Tribal tort claims act: we have a tort claims act. All our cases go through tribal court. Tribal tort claims act: if you follow the process and you've been injured by the tribe, you're going to get paid something to make you whole. And as a hospitality entity, we've got to do that. If people fall off the curb at the casino parking lot and it's our fault and they injure themselves, it's quickly going to be known around the region that you shouldn't go to the Tulalip Casino because you can fall off the curb and hurt yourself, the tribe's going to raise sovereign immunity and you can't collect anything. So people are not going to come. We're in the hospitality business; we've got restaurants, we've got an amphitheater, we've got all this stuff. We need to make sure that tribal sovereign immunity is not an impediment to people getting reasonable compensation if they're injured by the tribe. Another piece of that is you've got make sure that you're insurer recognizes tribal sovereign immunity and sovereignty and writes into the contract that they can't raise it. When Joe [Kalt] comes to see the casino and falls off the curb and hurts his knee and so he makes a claim and we take the claim and give it to the, he follows the tribal tort claims act and we take the claim and give it to the insurer, we don't want the insurer saying, "˜Sorry, Joe, sovereign immunity, you don't get anything,' because then we'd be paying for insurance that's worthless. We pay a whole lot money for insurance to cover Joe when he falls off the curb, and if we don't get our insurer to say that they won't raise immunity, we've just paid for nothing because they stand in our shoes when Joe is injured and they can raise all the defenses that we have.

Tribal grievance procedures, tribal employee grievance procedures: set up this code to deal with tribal employee grievances. And now I work with a tribal chairman who's 80 years old. He can remember when the tribe didn't have any employees at all. Now we've got 3,000 or 4,000 or something like that. So they're always grumpy, aren't they? They're always after you for something and we've got a raft of codes and procedures to deal with grumpiness because that's part of life. And when they come into the tribal court where most of our grievance procedures end up, if you don't like what the administrators do and that sort of thing, and the tribe waltzes in and says, "˜Hey, wait a minute judge. Sovereign immunity -- can't do anything with regards to this,' you're not doing the right thing. All the stuff that you've done in personnel and HR [human resources] is worthless because the person can't get their grievance heard. Housing appeal, same kind of thing. Tribal self-insurance programs; we have several self-insurance programs. They're much cheaper than buying insurance, but they require us to waive our immunity so that the people who are relying on these insurance programs, if they don't agree with what they got, worker's comp [compensation] is a very common one, that they can go to tribal court and that requires a waiver of immunity. In my mind, there's a lot of reasons why you want to set up these numerous waivers. You get, I get, my office gets sometimes, we haven't had a lot of them, but you get claims of waiver of immunity where there was none. So you want to be able to show that the tribal council knows how to waive immunity and has done it numerous times so you can go into court, federal, state or tribal, and say, "˜Look, your honor, there isn't any waiver here and I can show you why because there are plenty of tribal waivers that have happened and here they all are.' They're resolutions and in ordinances and sections of contracts and that sort of thing. The tribal council knows that as the only entity that has the power to do that is the tribal council, in some cases delegated power to someone else but the tribal council and here's how they did it and there's no other way to do it and here's all the list of the waivers that have happened. So this claim that the tribe somehow inadvertently waived sovereign immunity isn't valid. So in corporate enabling acts, tribal court jurisdictional statutes, enrollment ordinances, you want to create a pattern. If you're a serious tribal governmental entity, you want to create a pattern and this is the way you do it.

We're building a hotel now. It's, I don't know, $160 million or $260 million or whatever it is. My mother advised me not to sign the loan documents. She said, "˜That's way too much money.' We sent out a request for proposals for contractors and the lowest bidder was this company, it's a big company, Canadian company, but they've got an American division. It's called PCL Construction; maybe you've run into them. They wanted a waiver of immunity and we said, "˜Fine.' And we worked and worked and worked on this waiver of immunity but at the end of this, not at the end, in the middle of this, they said, "˜We want state court.' We did an arbitration provision, which allowed disputes to be arbitrated by an appropriate arbitrator, but arbitration awards have to be enforced by a court. There has to be a court out there that will enforce the ruling of the arbitrator. The arbitrator doesn't have judicial authority. Arbitrators can, under the contract, act like a judge, make an award to one side or the other, but if one side or the other won't follow the directions of the arbitrator, the ruling of the arbitrator, you have to have a court at the end, federal, state or tribal. Federal court doesn't work in this circumstance. I won't tell you why because I've only got 50 seconds. PCL said to us, "˜We won't accept your tribal court.' You have to waive immunity in state court. So, we got another contractor. We just finally said, "˜We're not doing it. We put a lot of work into this tribal court.' Joe gave us an award recently. Our tribal court's good. We've got good judges, we've got a good court of appeals, we've got good ordinances, we even took the extraordinary step of having the chief trial judges in tribal court go over and sit down with the president of PCL and tell him, "˜Look, the tribe -- here's the ordinance -- the tribe has given me authority to enforce arbitration awards. I've got 40 years of experience both as a lawyer and as a court commissioner in King County, Seattle.' He's an Indian, he's a Colville Indian, but he said, "˜Look, now I'm not going to decide on your case when there isn't a case, but if there's an arbitration award I'll enforce it.'

We have built an institution, our tribal court as part of our sovereignty, and if they don't accept it, let's get somebody else. And they did. So that's when you don't waive. That's when you say, "˜It's affecting our sovereignty and we're not going to do it.'"

Michael Taylor: Nation-Owned Businesses: Quil Ceda Village

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Tulalip Tribal Attorney Michael Taylor discusses Tulalip's rationale for taking the unique step of creating Quil Ceda Village, a federally chartered city, and the benefits this approach has brought the Tulalip Tribes.

Resource Type
Citation

Taylor, Michael. "Nation-Owned Enterprises: Quil Ceda Village." Building and Sustaining Tribal Enterprises seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 29, 2007. Presentation.

"Well what the second part of the presentation before me emphasized was structure. How do you structure? How do you get away from politics, if you can? And you can't always get away from politics. But I would say that, I would argue in contesting part of what was said this morning, that dividing the business operations from the politics of the tribal council is perhaps not a panacea, but it's necessary if the tribes are going to succeed with their development. In all the years that I've worked on reservations -- and I worked in the tribal facility always, I've always worked directly for the tribe -- the struggle has been how to figure out ways to deal with this problem. We need to develop our resources; we need to pay attention to taking those resources that we have and maximizing [them] for the benefit of our people and creating institutions that last, both governmental and business. And so in struggling with this problem I think I -- along with the people that I've worked with, Indian people -- have figured out a couple of ways and I want to talk about two of them.

I know I was brought here to talk about Quil Ceda Village, which I will spend most of my time on, but on the Colville Reservation, which is just south of Osoyoos, in the early '80s the tribe was faced with this problem. They had a whole bunch of businesses; they were all being subsidized by timber revenues. And when the timber market went bust, all those businesses essentially couldn't operate because they were being supplemented by timber revenues. So we established a corporation called tribal governmental, which we called a tribal governmental corporation. If you want to study this model, there's a case now out from the -- I don't think anybody else in here is a lawyer -- but this case just came down from the Washington Supreme Court, a court which has never been favorable to Indians from its inception. When it was a territorial court, before there was a State of Washington, it still wasn't particularly interested in Indian issues, and has done its best to torpedo Indian rights wherever it could. But this organization that we established back in the early '80s was eventually sued in a way that we thought it would eventually be sued. And in this court, a very unfavorable court, the Washington State Supreme Court, we succeeded in getting a very favorable decision about this form of organization and I recommend the case to you. It's called Wright vs. Colville Tribal Enterprise Corporation [CTEC]. You can mention this to your lawyers; you can get it on [Lexis and Westlaw]. In that case, the Supreme Court of Washington talks about this corporate entity that was formed on the reservation at Colville. What it is and why it maintains the powers and immunities of an Indian tribe while being sort of a half step away. And that half step is important because the half step separates business from government. And I would argue that the reason that CTEC is still around after 24 years or however long it's been is that this separation took place.

Now there have been many wars here, internal wars, but the trick here is survival and profitability. And CTEC Corporation has, over the years, maintained that separation between the tribal elected officials -- there are 14 of them at Colville, a 14-member tribal council -- and the corporate body, the leadership that's brought in essentially, some tribal members, some not, to run the businesses of the corporation, which include gaming and timber, sawmill, grocery stores, there's a recreational houseboat development -- a whole bunch of things that this entity does. There's even a kind of a bank that operates, loaning money to people. And so this entity has survived, what I think as a lawyer is, a critical test where it got sued in the state courts and the case went up to the state supreme court and the state supreme court validated what we did. And if you look at that case, every fact and every law and every ordinance that both the majority opinion and the concurring opinion use as a basis for legitimizing what we did here was thought out, it was well thought out, even though we didn't have any models or at least we didn't have any models in Indian Country to do this.

Now as we say, over the years it's not a panacea. There are mistakes that have been made occasionally. Sometimes things that you plan don't work out. But we're still making money; it's got lots of employees. If I walk down the street in Omak, the town that I lived near all those years, I run into people who I can say as I'm greeting them and walking along, raised their families by working there and/or bought off... we sold off some businesses to tribal members who started them, managed them and then said, "˜Okay, I'm ready to do it myself, sell it to me.' And as I said this morning, the charter of this entity says that the corporate board has an obligation to provide support for tribal members who want to do it themselves. And that's especially true whether it's a sell-off of a business that's been operated by the corporation and a tribal member who managed it, worked it and operated it, built it can say, "˜Okay, I've gone to the bank, they'll provide me with the money to help me buyout this business and operate it myself.' I still have a house over here so I can go to Osooyoos and the guy who takes care of my well is one of the businesses we had, a well-drilling business and now he's got a big well-drilling business in that area because one of the things that area lacks is water. It's a desert. It's part of this desert. It goes all the way up into Canada, the great Sonoran Desert.

Well, let's talk about Quil Ceda Village. Quil Ceda Village is another example of separating, but this time it's dividing government responsibilities. Today I work on the Tulalip Reservation, which is, for you folks it's a relatively, many of you [in the] area down here, it's a relatively small reservation. It's 22,000 acres and it's roughly a triangle. Over here on this side of the reservation is water, Puget Sound. We're about 35 miles north of Seattle. Up here is Vancouver, this is Interstate 5; I-5 is the eastern boundary of the reservation. And down here, if you keep going, is what? Tijuana. So that's the geography of this place. [Laughter] Why's this funny? I grew up in California. Okay. So along this I-5 corridor -- if you've ever driven it -- when you get into populated areas it's an area for development, it's a good location in other words. It's a good real estate location. And when I came to work about 13-14 years ago at Tulalip -- leaving this beautiful God's country over there at Osoyoos and the Colville Reservation for the moldy, wet side -- this area along here, the reservation boundary was relatively undeveloped. There's a little area down here where the tribe had its original casino, right in here, that was developed, but otherwise along here it was just trees, a very pretty drive on Interstate 5 along here because it was undeveloped and there was trees. Tribal council had a notion about how to develop this area and after a few years and I was there they decided to develop a particular plot of land, which is about 2,000 acres and it's right here. And one of the things that they were going to do is it was a future plan, they were going to build a much larger and more accommodating casino facility up on this part of the land. At the time I got here, this area was, as I say it was undeveloped, in fact it was a big hole. There had been a lot of earth removed from this area to build freeway overpasses and that sort of thing. The tribe sort of sold the dirt from this area. So when we went over here it was just a big mud hole, enormous puddle because it rains a lot.

Well, so I'm going to talk about the governmental side of this situation. I'm not going to talk about the business side, that's different. In practice we have developed this area quite substantially. We have a Walmart©, a Home Depot©, a great big 110- or 120-store fancy outlet facility, the casino is built in here, there are gas stations, restaurants, but we still have a lot of land that we're looking for people to come in and build and we have a lot of folks that we're dealing with on all kinds of projects. So we have a list of various people. We're trying to essentially develop this into a destination resort and right now we're building a big hotel right next to the casino. So there's a lot of talk, a lot of argument back and forth on the business side as to what this area is going to be in terms of the services and the projects that are going to be produced here in this area. But there were some problems in doing this. I'm just going to talk about two of them. One was annexation and two was taxes.

Those of you who work around cities, especially small cities -- I assume it's this way every place -- if you've developed, if you have an undeveloped area and then suddenly it begins to develop, the cities nearby will look very closely at trying to get this area into the city boundaries because it's a very substantial source of tax revenue for them. So we have a city over here, Marysville, we have one down here, Everett and then a little bit north is Arlington. And these cities have engaged in litigation and utilities warfare grabbing, like amoebas they reach out and they grab areas where there is substantial commercial development. They like that. They don't like the grab housing developments because that's just a sink of money. You have to provide services and you don't get too much back. But if you've got a bunch of car dealerships, restaurants and grocery stores and all that kind of stuff, you want to grab it. And those things tend to, they have a symbiotic relationship and they tend to clump together. So people come into this area, they spend money, they create tax revenues and so cities want these areas and they have, under state law, the opportunity to go out and grab them through an elective process of various sorts.

And we knew that Marysville, Arlington and Everett have done this in a number of places. And we were concerned that if we were successful here -- we didn't know whether we would be -- but once Walmart agreed to come, and that's another story, but once Walmart agreed to come we thought, 'Hey, somebody, some city is going to want to annex onto the reservation.' Now, can they do that? Can they move their boundaries onto the reservation? Absolutely. There's a bunch of cases in federal courts where Indian tribes have tried to stop annexation onto the reservation, all lost, all lost. They never have been successful. And we didn't want one of these cities moving in and essentially taking over the government of our area that we were going to develop. So annexation was an issue. In addition, if we were successful, we were going to produce a lot of tax revenue in this area. And the tax revenue as we know now, we thought then and we know for sure now, it would dwarf what we can get from leases and other forms of development, it would dwarf it. So we wanted to have a shot at getting the tax revenue that's derived from this area. So here's what we did. And in your materials I provided the documents, the basic documents that we did.

I talked about Colville Tribal Enterprises Corporation a little bit because I essentially followed the same pattern or I talked my client into following the same pattern, my client being the tribal council, of establishing an entity. In the case of Colville Tribal Enterprise Corporation, it was a business corporation, something to produce surplus revenues and employ people. I did it in the '80s and when this problem came up I thought, 'Well, maybe we can move over onto the government side and essentially do the same thing.' And that's what we did. The tribal council passed an enabling act, which you have in your materials, allowing them to charter municipalities themselves and we hustled it over to the BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] and they said, "˜What's this?' They say that with everything. We said, "˜We're going to charter, we want to charter a municipality, and so here's the enabling act that allows how this is to be done.'

Well, we thought, if we have our own municipality here, we can at least defend ourselves on the annexation business. So that strategy...and it's basically worked. There have been no annexation, the cities around us have bought off on the fact that this is a municipality and they can't go there, they can't move onto the reservation and take this within their boundaries. And we've solidified that by making deals with them where they have agreed contractually not to do it. But that initial adoption of this entity as a municipality with its own village council. It's called the 'village council'; it's called Quil Ceda Village. It's got a big long legal name to differentiate it from cities in the State of Washington, but Quil Ceda Village is what we call it and it's the colloquial name, what people call it when they say, "˜Oh, we're going to Quil Ceda.' We now have an amphitheater over here so we're starting to bring all kinds of old rock acts and country stars and that sort of stuff here. And so now...we brought the Everett Symphony, nobody came but...I went. We have an amphitheater. So Quil Ceda, people know now, Quil Ceda, Quil Ceda, I'm going to Quil Ceda.

Anyway, we stopped the annexation. We're settled in our minds that they're not going to be able to do that and if we have an attempt to do it, we have a good case to defend it. The village council, they take care of business in here; they build the roads, they set the speed limits, they built their own sewage treatment plant. We've negotiated water transference through the City of Marysville's system because we don't have a water line. We're working on that, but we don't have a water line here. We have an agreement with many municipalities and the counties and that sort of thing for water. I won't go into that. We have to transfer that through Marysville's system to get it in here and that's what we're doing at this point. And that agreement protects us from the kinds of utility wars that these small cities get into when they fight over whose going to get this particular bid of commercial development. The next issue...we've defeated our annexation concerns and I guess one more thing about the annexation business. The leadership on the reservation, the people on the reservation and the people in Marysville especially, a century of bad blood; they went to school together, they fought each other, and so that's one of the reasons we were really concerned. Marysville is a very border town kind of atmosphere, discriminatory -- you know the story. That's changed pretty substantially now. In fact, the Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce is now located in Quil Ceda Village. That's kind of amazing.

What about the taxes? We're not getting anywhere on taxes, but we have a very good case and we're putting it together. We have worked with the state revenue department, the governor, the legislature and they're just, they're getting a huge windfall here. Between $17 and $20 million a year in taxes are coming out of here and not very much of that is going into either the village council or the tribal council. The tribal council's office is over here on the water where it's pretty. In order to solidify, I think, solidify our position we used a provision of the tribal government tax status act. How many of you know the tribal government tax status act? Anybody in here familiar with it? No. Well, it's there. It was passed by Congress in 1982 and it's a smorgasbord of tax fixes that Congress thought they ought to do for Indian tribes. It makes Indian tribes more like states in terms of dealing with the internal revenue code. The tribal government tax status act has a provision in it that says that if you apply appropriately, if you create, if a tribe creates an entity that qualifies under the provisions under the tribal government tax status act, it can be given a federal designation as a political subdivision of an Indian tribe and then it has many of the federal governmental aspects of an Indian tribe. The tribal government tax status act, when you want to get on the list, and it's a very short list of entities that are designated as political subdivisions of an Indian tribe, you have to file with the Internal Revenue Service a petition for a tribal letter of opinion. [Question] There is a lawyer in the IRS in D.C. who has this responsibility to review your petition and then you have to have the Department of Interior write a letter supporting this petition. And then the two of them together will decide whether you qualify and if you do you get this letter back, which I supplied you in the materials, which says, "˜Because you qualify under certain provisions of the tribal government tax status act you're now a federally recognized political subdivision of an Indian tribe.' Well, that's part of our tax case. It will be part of our tax case, because what the state's doing in here with regard to our tax situation is causing us to lose some of the benefits that we're entitled to under the tribal government tax status act. So we have this letter and we're going to use it and, as I said, our accountant's telling us that the state and the county are getting between $17 and $20 million in taxes each year out of Quil Ceda Village and we're after that. And so we're drafting a federal lawsuit complaint.

One final comment: everything that we've done to create this entity, we've taken a bunch of cases which tribes lost, mainly from Arizona, Gila River and some other tribes who lost these tax cases. But in losing them the Ninth Circuit has laid out this prescription of what you can do to win. And so we've been following these unfortunate events in Arizona and we've tried to satisfy every one of those requirements that the Ninth Circuit has put on tribes in order to succeed in getting control of tax revenues that are derived from economic development here. And that's why, for example, every person who works for the Quil Ceda Village government is an Indian except me. My enrollment application has been pending for quite some time. Everybody from the accountants to the people who fill the potholes and paint the lines on the street, we try to employ...when we have to do a contract, like we got to get somebody to tow the cars out of the...lots of parking in the village because there's lots of activity. We've got...at this point, we're way too successful because there are two freeway accesses to this and they're backed up all the time trying to get into one or the other of the activities that's going on in here. So we've got a lot of employment, relative to what Indian tribes have, in the village. I think the village has maybe 60 employees or something like that. They're all Indian. They're not all Tulalip, but they're all Indians. We've got our police precinct down here because the rest of the reservation is benign compared to what goes on over here. So we've got a police precinct in this area that's just...there's tribal police cars that have Quil Ceda Village written on them so they know they're a Quil Ceda police car.

So that's on the government side. It's a government that's different from the tribal council. The tribal council of course controls it because what do they have? They have the enabling act that steers. One of the great things about this Colville Tribal Enterprise Corporation, other people have mentioned this, you have this tension all the time between the corporation and its employees and managers and that sort of thing and politicians. And the enabling act that sets up the ability of the tribal council to charter corporations like CTEC, which is a special kind of corporation, it's called a governmental corporation. It's not a for-profit corporation, it's not a not-for-profit corporation, it's a governmental corporation. And you'll see this in writing. But this enabling act allows the tribal council to steer, not crush, the corporation. So once the tribal council understood that, and we had a lot of close calls I'm telling you, they feel a lot better about the corporation doing things that they might be unhappy with because they know that they've got medium- to long-term control. In closing I'll give you one example of that.

When we created this corporation, we brought in a number of people; almost none of them were from the reservation. Some were tribal members who had succeeded in business somewhere else, California or somewhere. Some were not Indians who had specific experience in the businesses that we're in, like running supermarkets. So what happened here? These folks came in and saw how sloppy we were operating and they had suggestions and they had ideas about what to do. And so they started saying to themselves, 'Well, I'll take a consultant contract to help you organize your supermarkets better.' We had a guy who is a billionaire because he owns the only supermarket on one of the islands in Puget Sound and he agreed to be on our corporation, and that was great on our board because he knows a ton about how to operate a supermarket successfully. Well, he took a small contract, consultant contract to help us straighten out things at the supermarkets, which was great. And that's fine in the business community. In the business world of your corporate directory you can take a consultant contract with your corporation so long as you don't fleece the corporation. You can get paid the standard amount for doing that kind of work and that's fine. But that doesn't go on the rez. On the rez, people look at these guys coming in there and say, "˜Well, we give them all this authority and now they're taking money out of here and we don't like it.' So what's the reaction of the tribal council? Squash that corporation. What's Mike's [my] argument? Well, you don't have to do that tribal council, all you've got to do is amend the enabling act to say that people that are on the boards of these corporations can't work for them. "˜Oh, okay. So we don't have to wipe out our own economic development entity in order to squash this problem?' 'No, just amend the enabling act. Just add something to it to say that you can't do that under the tribal law.' "˜Oh, okay. Fine.'"

Stephen Cornell: Governance, Enterprises, and Rebuilding Native Economies

Producer
Native Nations Institute
Year

Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development Co-Director Stephen Cornell discusses the two basic approaches Native nations typically take as they work to build and sustain nation-owned enterprises, and shares a number of examples from across Indian Country.

Resource Type
Citation

Cornell, Stephen. "Governance, Enterprises, and Rebuilding Native Economies." Building and Sustaining Tribal Enterprises seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 29, 2007. Presentation.

Stephen Cornell:

"Well, good morning and thanks to all of you for being here. We've been looking forward to this. This is an experiment on our part. It's the first of a series, we hope, of focused seminars like this. A lot of the work that we do in executive education is very comprehensive. We spend two days with the tribal council, with the senior leadership of a Nation going through nation building from sort of A to Z, talking about constitutional reform, talking about policy, talking about strategic planning as well as economic development. But as Joan [Timeche] said this morning, we thought we've had enough interest from people in spending some focused time on nation-owned enterprises and we decided maybe we should think about doing some more narrowly focused seminars. And this is actually our first shot at it -- so you're all guinea pigs in this experiment -- and if this works I think we'll be doing more of this kind of thing. We've got one coming up in May, May 14. We're going to be doing a seminar; it's not an open one. It's a little bit different, but the focus is on sovereign immunity issues that a lot of nations are wrestling with. And we want to do one -- we've been asked by the National Congress of American Indians to do one on per capita distributions. A lot of you have probably dealt with those kinds of issues. A lot of nations are trying to think about how to handle the revenues that they're beginning to generate from the sorts of enterprises we're talking about today. So there's a number of opportunities to try to provide hands-on experience, research results, information to people on some of these narrow topics, narrower topics.

So this is the first effort at that. And I'm the guy we have to get through before you get to the meat of this, because what we're really pleased to have this morning is the panel that comes next, because we were able to persuade -- as Vern [Bachiu] said, it was tough persuading those from Saskatchewan to come to Tucson in March -- but we were able to persuade four nations to come here today and talk simply about their experience. These are all nations, and we've got the Meadow Lake Tribal Council, the Gila River Indian Community, the Tulalip Tribes, the Osoyoos Indian Band -- all four of whom have done interesting things, encountered all the problems, come up in some cases with solutions, in some cases maybe are still wrestling about some of those problems, but we wanted to ask those four nations to come and say a little bit about, 'Here's what we tried to do: here's what's worked, here's where we are today and where we're going,' and kind of tap into their experience. So I'm looking forward to that part of this and also there's time in the agenda to have some dialogue about asking them, ‘Well, how did you handle this?' or ‘what happened? Did you encounter this problem that we're having? How did you deal with it?' That sort of thing. And then this afternoon we've got a second panel that looks thematically at some of the nuts and bolts of organizing nation-owned enterprises and it's kind of an information exchange. We expect to learn something out of this as much as anyone in the room.

The Native Nations Institute, we're a vacuum cleaner for information and we spend a lot of our time listening to what people are doing. We don't see ourselves as an organization with answers, we see ourselves as an organization that helps communicate what Indigenous nations are doing that works. That's where the answers are coming from. The answers are coming from nations out there encountering these issues, solving them. What we do is try to learn, ‘Oh, you did that? Great, we can tell other people how you solved that, maybe that'll help them.' So that's what this is really about. My job in the next 40 minutes or so is to try to give you a little context for how we think about this issue, for some of what we've learned and kind of set the stage. As we've...as Joan said, this work at the Native Nations Institute goes back now for more than 20 years, back to the founding of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. And over those years we've begun to learn a lot of stuff and I've tried to put some of it together this morning in this presentation.

One of the things of course that's apparent is that all across North America and elsewhere -- we've recently been doing some work in Australia and New Zealand. And that wasn't our idea to go do work there but Manley Begay and I -- Manley would be here and sends his apologies -- but Manley Begay and I got a request from some Aboriginal Indigenous peoples in Australia and New Zealand saying, ‘We hear so much about what's happening in North America -- what Indigenous nations are doing there -- we want to learn from what they're doing. We understand you gather some of those stories. Can you come tell those stories?' And what's been interesting to us is when we hear about the problems they're facing, they're similar to the problems Indigenous nations here are facing. The politics are different, the legal situations are different, but here are Indigenous peoples trying to reclaim their place at the table, trying to reclaim control over their lands, trying to figure out how to solve the tough problems that they face. One of the tough problems faced everywhere is the economic problem and we tend to think of it as a set of challenges that Indigenous nations are facing. How do we reduce -- we hear this a lot -- how do we reduce our dependence on outsiders, federal governments and others who are paying the bills, often? How do we reduce that? How do we get in a situation where we're in the driver's seat? We don't have to ask permission from somebody because it's our money, it's the product of our work, we're in control, we can shape our communities the way we want to. There's that challenge of how do you provide opportunities for your citizens to live productive, satisfying lives.

[I was] talking once with Chief Phillip Martin from Mississippi Choctaw. Many of you may be familiar with what's happened at the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, but they've transformed their economy over the last 20 years. And when you ask Chief Martin ‘What's the benefit of it?' He says, ‘Well, in the 1970s everybody was leaving, now they're all coming home.' Because what they've done is create an opportunity for their own citizens to live productive, satisfying lives on Choctaw land and to him that was the goal in part, to be able to do that. And you're also trying to create the means of supporting your own governing processes. If Indigenous nations are serious about reclaiming control, then they've got to find ways to support Indigenous governance where it's not dependent on somebody else saying, ‘Well, we'll pay for this but we won't pay for that.' Well, who's in the driver's seat when that happens? [I was] talking with Brian Titus from Osoyoos Indian Band and Chief Clarence Louie up there, and one of the key goals in their whole development effort has been ‘how do we get to the point where we can do what we want to do, support our own government, support our own priorities?' So those challenges are out there and we think those challenges lie behind this effort by Indigenous nations to create enterprises that are under their control and use those enterprises to produce new sources of revenue. Well, we've been looking at this for a while and I thought we'd begin with two real quick stories about some enterprises from our research files because they show, we think, some of the differences in approaches that we've seen over the last 20 years. And I think the last 20-30 years have been years of learning for Indigenous nations. But here are some of the ways that things get done.

I won't tell you what enterprise or nation this is but here's a quick capsule. This is Enterprise A -- and we came across this sometime in the early 1990s -- it's a tribally owned business. This tribe has a large forest on its lands. This enterprise cuts trees on the nation's forest and turns them into fence posts, sells them to a national broker who markets them across the United States. I say it does this, it doesn't actually exist anymore -- the enterprise -- but it was doing this. The manager is hired by and reports to the tribal council. Councilors repeatedly interfere in hiring and firing decisions by, for example, calling up the manager and saying, ‘You need to hire more people from our district.' When we were up there doing research and talked to this manager, he said, 'oh,' he said, ‘We've got a...,' I don't know, can't remember. I think it was a seven-member tribal council. He said, ‘I've got seven bosses. There's not a week that goes by that someone doesn't call me up and say, ‘I've got a personnel issue we need to talk about or my cousin's moving back here after ten years, moving back to the rez, needs a job, I want you to hire him.'' The manager says, ‘I'm running an employment service; my labor costs keep rising. Soon I'll have the most expensive fence posts in the country.' And that was exactly what he ended up with. And the result was he couldn't compete in the tough market because of the rising labor costs. Eventually the enterprise, which was being subsidized by the nation, eventually folded, end of all the job opportunities, etcetera. So that's Enterprise A, and that's a story which I think...you all have worked in this business longer than I have, or a lot of you have, it's not an unfamiliar story of how some things happen.

Enterprise B: this is an Indian nation, which in the early 90s was one of the early casino builders, became dependent largely on its own casino revenues. As one councilman said, ‘We've gone from dependent on the feds to being dependent on the casino.' But it has...then it started to face competition because the state it was in liberalized gaming law and pretty soon a couple of new casinos were opening up -- non-Native casinos -- located right between this tribe and its primary market. So its revenues looked like they were going to fall as these casinos came online. They were going to start losing jobs and losing resources so the nation established a tribally owned corporation, wholly tribally owned corporation, and directed it to diversify the nation's economy. That's its goal and they said, ‘We want you to make profits that we can use, you can use to get us into, get us out of our dependence on gaming. We don't want to leave gaming -- that's a core activity -- we want to be doing other things,' and insulated this new corporation from tribal politics and hired top quality managers. The chairman of the tribe said, ‘One thing we've learned in our experience is that politics and business decision-making are a bad mix. So we're going to set this thing up in a way that insulates, tries to manage that,' tough challenge in small nations. But in five years, the corporation is generating substantial profits and jobs from multiple businesses. They succeeded in diversifying the economy dramatically and today they're, in a sense, much more dependent on the multiple businesses that that corporation is running than they are on their original casino operation. And in fact, the casino revenues have fallen because these other casinos have been successful.

Now, one way that we look at these two enterprises is we look at very different ways to organize things. Enterprise A fits in our book under what we sometimes call the council-run model of a nation-owned enterprise and you can see it diagrammed up there. You've got the council, the CEO reports to the council, employees supposedly report to the CEO, there may be a board of directors but it's actually an advisory board. That may not be the original idea, but in fact the council is running things. And elected leaders are basically making the business decisions, political considerations loom large, employees have figured out where the power lies and realize, well, the way to get a complaint dealt with is you go around the CEO. Why talk to the board, they don't have any power; you just go straight to the council. So the council's become the personnel grievance process, the complaint department and everything else in that situation. Enterprise B -- the one I talked about responding to the casino challenge -- they've got a very different structure. They've got a council, they've got a board that reports to the council, the CEO reports to the board and employees can't go around. They've got a personnel grievance system that is built into their corporate structure. So if you have a complaint, there's a way to deal with it within the business structure. The council's job is to think about where are we going? What's the strategy here? Do we want to be in this kind of business? How should we use this chunk of land? What should we do with this windfall land selling? The big issues the council is dealing with, but then the council has appointed a board of talented, skilled people with integrity and said, ‘Here's our strategy, you guys execute it. If you depart from the strategy, we'll pull you in but you do the day-to-day execution of it.' Now this isn't the whole story of those two enterprises. As anybody in this room knows, there's a lot more going on than this, but to us this illustrates the point -- which came out very clearly in our research -- which is that how you organize the business and how you organize the business development process is at least important as what business you're in. The guys in Nation B, when they faced this casino challenge and they created that corporation and said, ‘Go make money, diversify our economy,' we talked with the people who were involved in those council meetings and one of them said to us, ‘You know, we never talked about what business to get into.' He said, ‘We didn't spend those meetings saying, ‘I think we ought to do something in transportation. I think we ought to get into retail. I've got a great idea, I know a guy who could get us into X.'' He said, ‘The discussion was all about how do we organize a structure that's capable of supporting and sustaining business, whatever the business is? We didn't really talk about what business to be in, that was the corporation's job: where are the golden opportunities?'

So I thought I'd just look for a moment at what the old days, the approach to business development. And this is a bit of a caricature of it, but this is kind of the way for a long time I think a lot of nations approached business development. It's being left in the dust by what many of you in this room are doing today, which is a very different approach, but this is what it used to look like I think. Whose job was development? It was the planner. You hired a planner, you told them economic development, ‘We need economic development here, go find something we should do.' It was the planner's job. I remember in the late '80s arriving at one reservation saying we wanted to talk to someone about their economic development strategy: ‘This is Joe Kalt.' And he said, ‘Oh, economic development? Down the hall, third office on the right.' You know, this was a councilor. It was if, ‘Oh, that's their job. We hired a guy. He's supposed to do economic development. We've got other things.' It's the planner's job. What's the strategy? Pick a winner, the home-run syndrome. This young lady is from, came from Pine Ridge, right? From Albuquerque. Somebody here though...well, there was a fellow up there when we were up there about three years ago and he said, ‘One of our problems is we've got the Messiah complex.' I said, ‘What's the Messiah complex?' He said, ‘it's the belief that someday the Ford Motor Company's going to roll in here with 500 jobs and save us all.' And he said, ‘We finally realized, no one's going to save us. We've got to do it ourselves.' Picking the winner, finding that home-run project that's going to solve all the problems is not what economic development is about, but it's often the way it used to be done. Pick a winner, get a grant, or -- the more sophisticated approach -- do an asset analysis, then pick a winner and get a grant. Either way the strategy focuses on what we can persuade funders to fund.

How is the effort organized, sort of as a branch of tribal administration? Businesses are often run like tribal departments or social programs, the relationship of business to tribal government, the council controls the business, makes the decisions on hiring and firing, decides how the revenues are going to be spent, etc., essentially they're the business operator. What role does political and legal infrastructure play? Not much. Nobody pays a whole lot of attention to it. The authority rests with the council and maybe with the funders who told you, ‘Here's how you have to use the money we just gave you.' There are few consistent rules about how you do things, there's little effort to keep politics out of business decisions. What role does financial management capacity play? Pretty modest. Businesses are dependent on grants, they're run like programs, you fill out the grant application, show where the money goes and you're pretty much done. Not a lot of investment in building financial management capacity on the ground. Key tasks: hire a planner, get a grant, start a business and employ as many people as possible -- the old approach. What does the process look like? This comes out of talking with a number of tribes about how these things happen. There's a tribal election, new leadership comes in, they look around and say, ‘We need to get something going around here. Anybody got any ideas? We better hire a planner; you hire a planner. Okay, let's get a grant; you get a grant. Start a business, any business, whatever you get a grant for, that's fine. Hand out the jobs to your relatives and supporters.' So the business gets going, not much money comes in, but as long as the grant holds out, the jobs hold out. Then there's another election, a new group of leaders comes in, they look around at the business and they say, ‘Whoa, those jobs ought to be ours. Let's fire everybody and put our people in there.' Six months later, ‘We're short of cash. We need some money. That business is bringing in money, let's take the money from that and solve our problem.' Three more months the business is in trouble. ‘Quick, get another grant. Get another grant.' Six months more it's going down, ‘Run for cover.' Everybody splits. ‘Fire the planner. What happened to the jobs? Aren't there anymore grants? The chief's an idiot. Vote him out. Elect me,' etc. So the business dies, next election, another elected set of leaders comes in promising to build a sound economy. Look around, ‘Boy,' they say, ‘those guys sure made a mess of things. Good thing we got elected. Now let's get something going,' and here we go again. ‘Anybody got any ideas, etc.?' And the outcomes of this approach tended to be failed enterprises, few profits, few jobs, a discouraged community that wonders, man, when is something going to really stick.

Well, the alternative, and we think some of you in this room have been inventing this. We'll hear about some of them this morning and some of you have been doing it that we don't even know about. It's a very different approach to business development. We call it the nation-building approach, but that's just a name for it, but it looks very different. It doesn't go after the home run or look for the quick fix. It basically says, 'We've got to put in place a governance environment that can support and sustain development and we've got to determine our strategic priorities.' What is it we're trying to create here -- that Joan [Timeche] talked about this morning? What kind of community do we hope will be here on this land 50 years from now and what does that mean for the business decisions we make today? Joan and I actually had dinner last night with four representatives of a tribe in the Southwest who are wrestling...and they've been extremely successful, have done a brilliant job of business. And one of them said, ‘We're realizing that while we've become really good at some of these business techniques, we're beginning to lose touch with some of the Indigenous knowledge that we're trying to preserve. So we're at that point of trying to say to ourselves, okay, we've solved this piece of our strategic objective, we're making the money we need to free ourselves, but we haven't yet solved this part of our strategic objective. How do we do both at once and what does that mean for the businesses that we're in?' They're thinking about, 'Hey, have we got the right strategy here?'

Features of the nation-building approach? And some of you who are familiar with our work will be familiar with a lot of this, but it emphasizes who's in the driver's seat, self-rule, Indigenous nations making the decisions, exercising control over their own affairs; backing up that authority with sound governing institutions; matching those institutions to their own Indigenous values, culture, the things that are most important to them; thinking strategically about where they're going, turning tribal government not into this boxing ring where families or factions fight to control the resources but into the engine that carries the nation forward. That's sort of the nation-building approach. But it approaches business development a little differently. Whose job is development? It's too important to be left to the planner. It can't be in the office three doors down. It's what the nation's about. How are we going to free ourselves from that dependence? How are we going to provide our citizens with opportunities? How are we going to support a government? Those are huge challenges. What's the strategy? It thinks about these issues. What kind of community are we trying to build? What do we hope to change? What do we hope to protect and not change, preserve? And given our priorities, our assets, the opportunities in front of us, what should we do? The relationship of business to tribal government, strategic direction is in the hands of the council or other leadership, the day-to-day management is insulated from politics, and there are multiple ways of doing that. We're going to hear about some of them today. Some people do it with independent boards, separate charters, established rules that govern how people deal with their own businesses. But that is a major piece of the task of running successful nation-owned enterprises.

We've looked at this council-run versus separated model, those two diagrams I showed you. We did a running study of 121 tribally owned and operated enterprises on about 30 reservations and we asked people, senior leaders from these nations, which of these models do you fit into? Does the council control everything, hiring, firing, day-to-day business management? Is that essentially council business or is it separated somehow? You have specialists, those who know that side of how to run the enterprise who are doing that. And then we asked them, are you profitable or not? And the interesting thing was 63 of them under the council-run model, percent that are profitable: 49 percent. Odds of profitability: less than even. Under the separated model, 58 of those, 83 percent of them profitable, odds of profitability almost five to one. And this is one of the things that taught us that this issue of how you manage that place where politics and business come together turns out to be a critical piece of whether or not the business succeeds in meeting the objectives of the nation. And we think actually on the left that the situation would be, that that actually overstates the successes, because of course what it doesn't capture is all the businesses that folded because of interference like that timber operation that I started with, which didn't last because it had been turned into an employment service for council."

Audience member:

"Would the 31 also include casinos?"

Stephen Cornell:

"At the time we did this, I would say there are casinos in this list, but I couldn't tell you how many. Some of this was in '91 and '92 and I think in those two groups, those two rounds of this, there were very few casinos but probably there are some in here. A lot of this is non-casino. And actually someone said to us last night, the nation that Joan and I were talking with last night has a very successful casino among other businesses. And this one gentleman said to us, ‘Well, the problem with a casino is if you're making a lot of money, it can cover over a lot of problems.' And he said, ‘What we've discovered is when we get into businesses other than a casino,' at least if you're in a place where casinos are making a lot of money, that is if you're close to a big market, he said, ‘When we get into businesses other than casinos, we find we have to ramp up our management game. It's a whole lot tougher.' He said, ‘We've had to find much better management skills outside the casino business. Running casino you've got to know how to run a casino but,' he said, ‘as a general set of management challenges, if the money flows in, boy, you can cut a lot of corners and still show a healthy profit. In our other businesses, the tolerances are a lot less. We haven't been able to tolerate the mistakes that we often made in our casino biz. We've had to be much more skilled.' So that's an interesting question.

What role does the political and legal infrastructure play? Treat it as a key piece of the puzzle. This is what we've got to solve. It's that nation with the casino challenges, Nation B that I talked about, not talking about what business to be in, but talking about, 'What's the political and legal infrastructure we're going to put in place that can support any business we want to get into?' Without a political and legal infrastructure, laws, codes, separations of powers, roles, etc., that can support development, changes of success are slim. What role does financial management capacity play? Another key piece, putting in place reliable financial systems that are effective, they're enforced, they're transparent, so people trust them. It's not only essential to business success, but this is one of the ways you reassure citizens, partners, funders. There's a fellow named Jason Goodstriker with the Blood Tribe in Alberta. He's a council member there and he said, ‘We used to have all these rumors about what's really happening to the money.' He said, ‘Nobody...we all knew what was happening to the money cause the council got all these reports, but out in the community, ‘Oh, I know what they're really doing with that money, you know where that money came from, I know what's behind that whole thing,' and it seemed like a big rumor mill. We kept talking about how do we control this? And finally someone said, ‘Tell everybody what's happening to the money.' So we simply started publishing the tribal budget in the newspaper every quarter, everything. ‘Here's where it's coming from guys, here's where it's going and we put it in there.'' And he said, ‘Anybody with the patience and the mind for that mind-numbing task of just looking at numbers, could figure out...we made it as clear, as simple as we could.' And he said, ‘Overnight the rumor mill wound down.' It was the lack of knowledge that had made a lot of our own citizens say, ‘I don't know about this, it looks fishy. We made it transparent and the trust level rose.'

What are the key tasks? In this approach, determine strategic priorities. What are we trying to create here, where are we trying to go? Create a governance environment that can sustain the development effort and business success. Invest in financial management capacity. Find talented people and support them. And when we look at the business development process, it's the same four points and probably others that we can talk about. It's very different from that, anybody got any ideas, let's get a grant, let's start whatever we can persuade someone to fund; very different approach.

What are the likely outcomes? Well, our research at least says increase profits, reduce dependency, jobs that last, they don't get tied to political cycles, things like that and resources the nation can use to support its priorities. That's a real quick sort of overview of some of what we think we've seen on this question of nation-owned enterprises, how they work, some different approaches to thinking about them.

Any questions or anything you'd like to raise from all of that?"

Michael Taylor:

"What did you advise the tribal leaders who you had dinner with last night about this issue of maintaining the tribal-ness of these kinds of enterprises? What did you tell them?"

Stephen Cornell:

"Well, this is going to sound like a real slippery answer, but they didn't actually ask us for advice, which I was relieved about. I think Joan and I were sitting there thinking, ‘Boy, this is...' I'll tell you, there were two issues they raised and both of them -- as Joan and I talked about this afterwards -- both of us thought, these are issues we're beginning to hear more and more about and they both were really interesting issues. That was the first one was the question of, 'We're getting really good at this side of this kind of cultural divide, are we losing too much on this side?' And I think if they'd asked for an answer, one of the answers I would have given them from other peers too to talk a little bit about what other tribes are doing. Mississippi Choctaw, they pour profits from their enterprises into things like language retention, into running their own schools. One thing we did ask them was who controls the schools on your rez, are all your kids going off to public schools where you don't have any influence over the curriculum, or have you actually got some influence and they sound like from what they said, one of those nations in the fortunate position of actually exercising control from nursery school to middle school, they run their own school. That's an opportunity to create a curriculum that does at least part of what they're concerned about. At Mississippi Choctaw they put a lot of revenues into language and that sort of thing. The Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma has launched in the last couple of years a major language revitalization initiative. They did a survey and they discovered that there were no fluent Cherokee speakers on the rez, on their lands, under the age of about 45. And the Chief said, Chad Smith, 'We've got a national emergency here. This is the future of the nation at stake and what we've got to do is make some tough decisions about how we spend our revenues.' They don't have a lot of revenues. They don't have a large casino generating a great deal of money."

Audience member:

"They do."

Stephen Cornell:

"They have some large casinos, but they aren't in the situation of some of these tribes which have a great deal of discretionary income coming in that they can just put into a new program. And what the chief said was, ‘We had to approach some of our programs and say if we're going to invest in language revitalization, we're going to have to take money from some programs that are already established because these are expensive.' They went and found out how do you do language revitalization and the research says you start with the littlest children. You don't do high-school language classes; you go to three- to five-year-olds. And the Native Hawaiians and the Maoris in New Zealand were doing these immersion classrooms for three- to five-year-olds where not a word of English is spoken. So the Cherokees started one of these classrooms. But the director of education said, 'It costs me $90,000 a year to run one of those and I need to run four or five of them. So I've got to find money from other pieces of the tribe to do that.' And the response of the other pieces of the tribe was, 'Of course.' So they're saying, 'Okay, this piece is critical and we've got to make some tough decisions and put some revenue into that.' The second issue they came up with was they said, 'Our economic development arm is very successful and it's drawing talent away from our tribal government piece. Our successful enterprises are soaking up a lot of our talented people and tribal government is having trouble recruiting our own citizens who are talented because the enterprises are doing it. So we're facing sort of a human capital challenge on the governance side.' And that's another issue, which they saw coming out of this type of success."

Michael Taylor:

"Let me give you a couple of ideas that have worked at Colville. I had the opportunity to have a hand in developing one of the early recipients of the Honoring Nations award, which was Colville Tribal Enterprise Corporation and they did...my recollection is they did receive it. It's been a long time. When we drafted the charter of the corporation, it had a provision in it, which required the corporate board to expend time and resources assisting tribal members in developing their own businesses. And that -- after the outside board came in -- the board didn't like that. They tried to get the tribal council to remove that obligation from it. So there was one of those internal political wars over a provision in the corporate charter requiring the corporation to make substantial efforts and show that they were assisting tribal members in developing their own businesses. But the tribal council refused to do that and so still today there's a provision in their charter and a requirement that they, as business managers and as a corporate board, they feel like they suffer under this requirement. But I would argue that the reason Colville Tribal Enterprise Corporation is still in existence today after 23 years is that provision, because they're obligated to go into the community, find people who have ideas, and help them develop those ideas. Another aspect of what we did in developing that corporation was we obligated the corporation to...we subjected the corporation to the TERO requirements of the tribes and that also was a bone of contention with the board of directors. Most tribes have hiring preferences, but when you get into the business the corporate managers always want to hire the most experienced, most productive people. And often, as in the case of Colville, that wasn't the tribal workforce. That may be changing today, but I don't think so. And so subjecting the corporation to the jurisdiction of the tribe's TERO organization also I think is a reason why Colville Tribal Enterprise Corporation is still going strong."

Stephen Cornell:

"Those are interesting. Anybody else have a..."

Alex Yazza:

"Stephen, Alex Yazza with the Gila River Indian Community. Just a question with regards to the tribal communities that you've worked with: have you seen the experiences of maybe a number of those tribes that have made significant changes to possibly their governance structure in building not only their administrative capacity but their financial management capacity in order to become more successful? Was that any part of their strategic outlook and doing so, i.e. government reform, or even reformation of their constitution bylaws? Have you seen that in Indian Country?"

Stephen Cornell:

"Yeah, and I don't want to steal Brian Titus's thunder but -- who'll be on the panel next -- but the Osoyoos Indian Band in British Columbia, when they decided they were going to vigorously pursue economic development. We recently did a case study of what they've done and they actually spent a considerable period of time focused just on what do our financial management procedures look like? Do we have the capacity to account for every dollar, to make intelligent investment decisions? And have we built that? And let's do that first. And actually there's a period of time in the history of their development over the last 15 years where you look and you say, ‘Boy, what's really going on here is building financial management capacity. That's what they're about.' And once they got to that point it began to really show up in what was happening with their businesses. The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians in Michigan, they went through a period of having some enterprises that certainly had potential but weren't delivering and they read some of the research that we, and others, have done looking at this business-politics mix. And as a result of that they reorganized their...they basically separated their development corporation from their council and it had been one in the same and they pulled those two apart and rethought some of the constitutional issues there. George Bennett and John Petoskey and others up there see that as the point where they really began to see different results. They were at the same time trying to diversify their economy away from gaming so those two kind of went together. But yeah, I think we have seen tribes that have looked at constitutional issues as a critical piece of making economic development work. Rocky Barrett from the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Oklahoma, Rocky -- I heard him give a speech at the University of Oklahoma -- and he said, ‘If you're not thinking about constitutional reform, you're not in the economic development ballgame.' That's a line that stuck with me. It was the first time I heard a tribal chairman put constitutions and economic development in the same sentence. And he was reflecting their experience. His feeling was, until we dealt with the constitutional issues, we weren't able to make it happen."

Audience member:

"I have two questions and one is related actually to Rocky Barrett, because there are a number of tribes in Oklahoma where there's a three-party government and the executive branch manages the businesses. Rocky's a good example of that, and it's a little bit different from separated model. I was wondering if you've done any research into that. And the second question is among your separated-model businesses have you looked at the distinction between those that are successful and those that aren't and what are the characteristics of the businesses that are separated but not successful? Because it would be good to know where the pitfalls are if you go that route."

Stephen Cornell:

"Let me mention the second one of those first. The business/politics mix is just one piece of the development puzzle as all of you know. It's not as if solving that suddenly everything takes off. And yeah, we've seen plenty of places where they've succeeded in dealing with that, but it comes back to things like the financial management capacity issues. They may not have got their financial management house in order or they may be in a position where they're very reluctant. I remember up at Yakama, this wasn't so much business, it was the management of wildlife up there, but they had a very strong Yakama preference policy and the wildlife biology guy had said to us, ‘Well, we had to break that policy. We had to go to the council because there wasn't anybody here who knew anything about wildlife biology. And if you're going to manage a mule deer population and do it right, you better know what you're doing.' But he said what they did was when they hired me -- this guy who was the manager, he's a white guy -- he said in your job description is a five-year directive that within five years you will have trained a Yakama to replace you. He said, 'I'll only be successful here if I work myself out of a job.' So those kinds of issues come up as well and the separated model is no panacea, no guarantee. You still have to make intelligent business decisions and as all of you know, that's tough to do even when you're set up perfectly, the number of businesses that fail because of mistakes. So I don't think the separated model, we wouldn't hold it up as a panacea, but we would say that when you don't find a way to effectively manage that mix, you're inviting a lot of difficulties that even if you do the financial management right, even if you do a lot of the other stuff right, you're going to run into problems. On this question of this sort of these different structures, we've not systematically looked at that. What we're I think increasingly aware of is that there are a number of ways to skin this cat, and even within what I call the council-controlled model there are ways to manage politics within that model. You can do it by having very clear roles and rules about what council may and may not do. It's a model that's more susceptible or more dependent on electing the right councilors, because it opens some doors to people who may eventually get elected who don't have the best interest of the nation at heart. But I think what we're becoming aware of is that there are a number of different ways of addressing this political challenge. We've not done systematic research on this sort of executive as the managers separate from the legislative branch but still under tribal government and that's actually a good suggestion. We ought to look systemically at places like Potawatomi that does that."

Mary Thomas:

"Less than 15 years ago we were a very, very poor tribe. We had just a handful of businesses that were struggling. So when we got into the enterprises of entertainment, mainly gaming, that proved to be such a huge success that it was a benchmark and other businesses that followed almost had to strive to be try to reach that same benchmark and that was a hindrance I think. But keeping that up and trying to get as profitable as possible in a quick turnaround time, it has helped. And that's the main thing that I wanted to share with you is that you set a benchmark and then you try to achieve it and that's part of our success. But investing in people at the top when you're successful also helps, because now they're coming back and they're taking over and I just see the brightest future ever with all these bright minds coming in."

Stephen Cornell:

"Thanks. And we're going to hear more from Gila River during the next panel about some of what they've done. Other comments or questions? Yes, Roger."

Roger Willie:

"My question kind of goes back to this cultural aspect. You mentioned that certain tribes are starting with the youth. What about in terms of financial education, starting with the youth, what are tribes doing all the way down to like pre-K, elementary years, and so forth?"

Stephen Cornell:

"Well, I don't know if I've got an answer for you other than I think as many of you know, this issue of financial literacy is a very big issue right now in Indian Country, and there are several major initiatives underway, some by the Oweesta Corporation and First Nations Development Institute. Some of you know Joanna Donovo who is very involved in some of this. The Federal Reserve has been very interested in some of these financial literacy issues. And I think a number of them are focusing on not quite as young as you're talking about Roger, but certainly high school level and how...we hear from a lot of tribal leadership who are working on, thinking about education issues. We hear them saying to each other, ‘Have we thought through what it is we want our kids to learn on both sides of this cultural gap?' And I think some of them are thinking about the sorts of issues you're raising, financial literacy. We had a tribal chairman a couple of years ago who said to us -- no, he wasn't a chairman, he was a councilor -- and he said, ‘You know, my kids know all the latest stuff in popular culture but they don't know what I do. They don't know what it means to be a councilor. They don't know what tribal government is about.' And he said, ‘That's my worry. Thirty years from now who's going to run this place if my own kids...we're not somehow in our high school capturing their imagination with the challenge of nation building and of development and of what we could be doing on this land?' So I think there's a lot of talk about this, but I don't know examples of exactly what you're talking about."

Honoring Nations: Tom Hampson: Native Asset Building (Q&A)

Producer
Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development
Year

ONABEN Executive Director Tom Hampson fields audience questions about ONABEN's work and strategies for cultivating entrepreneurship in Indian Country.

Susan Jenkins:

"I'm Susan Jenkins with the Cherokee Preservation Foundation. I wanted to ask Tom a question. You have, with your Indianpreneurship been working with a lot of CDFIs. Can you give us an idea of what is emerging as far as new businesses that you're seeing?"

Tom Hampson:

"Indianpreneurship is... She's referring to the curriculum that -- as a social enterprise -- has become a significant part of our mission and our revenue stream. In fact, it is critical to our survival as a social enterprise. We also do training and curriculum sales. Thank you for asking that question. Actually, this comes back to what I was saying about CDFIs, or community development financial institutions, as being sort of introduced notions, by virtue of the fact that they are generous ideas about carrying capital to a place that needs capital with a lot of inherent structure in that program. And what CDFIs promise is debt capital in communities to support entrepreneurship. The reality is that, especially at the start up phase, debt capital is a very inappropriate kind of capital to finance an early stage business -- although entrepreneurs do it all the time, credit cards, friends and family and associates -- but still it's not the most desirable kind of capital. And so we're exploring -- by using the World Bank model, for example -- a way of creating equity capital injections into promising ideas using a business plan style competition that's based on the Alaska Marketplace model, which the Alaska Federation Natives manages in Alaska.

And fundamentally, what that does, where I'm getting to is that the reality is that by injecting capital into anyplace doesn't necessarily generate a particular stream of business or deal flow. That has to come out of the entrepreneurial spirit and the opportunity analysis that they do at the local level, and then that needs to get financed. And so generally,what we're seeing is the tail wagging the dog on the CDFI movement in the northwest. We are collaborating with Shore Bank Enterprise -- cascaded to service CDFI -- to help tribal CDFIs create an entrepreneurship development system and they're doing the back office part of the loan servicing and financing. And there's like eight different CDFIs emerging, there's lots of capital around, but the deal flow is what's lacking. It hasn't generated a lot of new businesses but the businesses that are there -- the mom and pop retail outlets, the gas stations, the hair salons, the woodcarvers and other artists. They're all there in the community and our challenge is to match and marry capital to their needs, and we hope that the CDFI can be a part of that solution."

Mediator:

"We have a question over here."

Mary Lee Johns:

"Hello there. My name is Mary Lee Johns and I'm with Rio Tinto, Senior Advisor on Tribal Governments and Native Communities. My question is to the gentleman. I'm curious about your response to supply chain activities by identifying like... I think that we really missed the boat when it came to the casinos. The fact that those casinos all over Indian Country are being supplied by non-Indian operations and I think that we have to be prepared to begin to develop our supply chains to these... I mean that's where the action is, that's where the cash is and yet we seem to -- as Indian, Native people, Indian people -- we don't look that far down the road. We look to the casino for providing us jobs but we don't look to the actual supplying. We should be the entrepreneurs developing our businesses to supply the casinos or any other business. You're talking about the rodeo. I'm sure you have an Indian contractor who... I know in South Dakota we have all these Indian contractors who have rodeo, they do the rodeo contracts; and so not only do they provide the bucking horses and the bulls and all that... But those are the kinds of things that I think that we as Indian people need to start looking at and I'm just wondering what your response is to that."

Tom Hampson:

"It's an incredibly complex and interesting topic. We have an annual conference, Trading at the River, that; it's a lot like this in terms of its tone and flavor which is thoughtful discussion and talking about how traditions of commerce from the pre-contact can inform new ideas. And that issue is a constant workshop topic every year. We beat it up constantly over and over again. The person that can best address that from a business model standpoint is John McCoy -- sitting next to you -- because there are incredible, the dilemmas that... One of the things that is a very amazing and complex problem is the fact that the business model for a casino, for example, is almost requires a business model for supplying it that is mega in proportion that does not favor an entrepreneurial approach. It might favor a tribal consortium, of which there is at least one now that is trying to be launched that tries to address the enormous capacity problems that Cisco Systems -- or what's the other major food supplier? -- they have solved those problems by being mega corporations. And so the entrepreneur, the efforts for the entrepreneurs to break into those purchasing systems is very complex but it can be done, it just depends on what scale you approach it. It's a whole topic in and of itself."

Mary Lee Johns:

"Well, the reason why I'm asking you that is because there is a model."

Tom Hampson:

"Oh, good. I'd love to hear it."

Mary Lee Johns:

"Well, it's not so much the entrepreneur, but it's based upon a tribal model. These friends from Canada may have heard of Diavik, it's our diamond mine, it's Rio Tinto's diamond mine in Northwest Territory. And what we did was -- we have an agreement with six communities -- and what we did as a company is that we saw an opportunity to help develop a sustaining economic there in Northwest Territory. And so we went in and assisted the communities in developing trucking, which is the ice road truckers, the Tlicho government; we also helped to develop an airline that supplies our, flies our workers in and flies our workers out. So there are some models out there and I'm one that I really believe that this model has to be done in other areas so that when a company wants to come in and do business with a tribe, then we need to be able to participate in the supply chain of that particular business if it's on our reservation. And that's why I say casinos is a perfect model for those kinds of things. Granted, it's becoming more of an older business model, but if we're going to begin to be developing anything else on our reservations, we need to begin to think about the supply chain because that's where the... When you're talking about asset building, that's where asset building can be developed."

Tom Hampson:

"I completely agree but what I'm saying is that... Actually, I would disagree at one level, is that casino may not be the best example. But there are other tribal enterprises over which the tribe has a lot more control over the price points that they have to pay in the marketplace that could be, that we are seeing are much more fertile ground for tribal enterprise and entrepreneurship relationships. The casinos are a little bit different problem but they're still an opportunity." 

Bureau delegates authority to Colville law enforcement

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At the request of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Bureau of Reclamation is delegating authority to enforce federal laws on Reclamation lands within the exterior boundary of the Colville Reservation to certified Tribal police officers. The delegation of authority does not include enforcement of any hunting, fishing or boating regulations...

Resource Type
Citation

"Bureau delegates authority to Colville law enforcement." Tribal Tribune. August 11, 2015. Article. (http://www.tribaltribune.com/news/article_d2030cda-405d-11e5-8440-eb78f0..., accessed March 14, 2023)

Preserving Culture: 6 Early Childhood Language Immersion Programs

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Year

Language immersion schools have proved to be enormously beneficial for young learners’ academics. To quote Dr. Janine Pease-Pretty on Top, Crow, founding president of Little Big Horn College, “Solid data from the Navajo, Blackfeet and Assiniboine immersion schools experience indicates that the language immersion students experience greater success in school, measured by consistent improvement on local and national measures of achievement.” Early childhood language immersion programs must be adapted to the cultural and financial resources available. Here are some examples of how educators have done that...