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Business & Economics

Lakota Businesswoman Attends D.C. Conference

Courtesy Native American Natural Foods

The CEO of a Native American business based on the Pine Ridge Reservation has been invited to a conference with President Barack Obama. 

What makes the invitation unusual is that the conference is for tribal nation representatives.

Karlene Hunter is CEO of Native American Natural Foods, located in Kyle. The company is best known for its “Tanka Bar” – a natural food product based on a traditional Lakota recipe of buffalo and fruit.

Hunter was last invited to the White House in 2009 for a gathering of minority business leaders.

Karlene Hunter anticipates tribal representatives will talk about health care, education and economic development in Indian Country. She says that given the opportunity she’d like the chance to speak to the president herself.

“I would like to talk about how the economy is hitting everyone across the board,” Hunter explains. “When you get to Indian Country it’s exemplified. We’re in some of the most economically depressed areas and the services are minimal at best.” 

Karlene Hunter adds that the sequestration and government shutdown made an already bad situation in Indian Country worse. She’d like to know what the president plans to do in order to improve conditions in tribal areas.