The biennial South Dakota Indian Business Conference has become a “must attend” for anyone interested in starting, maintaining or assisting a Native-owned business, says Tanya Fiddler.
“Each conference we try to build on our theme of the new Native America,” Fiddler explains, “ to describe a place where we believe that we can be prosperous by expanding financial capabilities and tribal citizen entrepreneurship….as well as working with the governmentals and partners to address barriers to Native business development in order for us to grow healthy, sustainable economies on our reservations.”
As director of the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation’s Four Bands Community Fund, Fiddler is well aware of the ups and downs of creating and sustaining a Native American business. Yet, Fiddler says running a successful business is actually nothing new for Native Americans.
“Most of the tribes in our region…and this is not taught in the history books,”observes Fiddler, “how strong and prosperous the trade systems were in this country before the non-Natives came here.”
Special Trustee for the Department of the Interior Vince Logan is scheduled to attend the 3-day business conference. Logan notes that legal hurdles along with societal differences can make establishing a business within Indian Country more of a challenge than it would be in mainstream America.
“We also have to consider that it’s not uniform,” notes Logan. “We have many large tribes with large populations…small populations. We have large land-holding tribes. So, even when we say ‘Indian Country’…that’s not clear.”
Notwithstanding, Vince Logan is an optimist. As a Native American businessman himself, Logan sees the possibility for success within Indian Country while also stressing the need for new ideas and innovations.