From the desk of ONABEN’s Executive Director, Veronica Hix

Veronica Hix Photo

Greetings from Tulsa, Oklahoma! This is the first of a series of ongoing blog posts I will be making to our community. My hope is that this blog will bring our readers closer to ONABEN, and also begin a dialogue about how we can partner together to best positively impact economic development in Native America. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions!

This week our work brought us to Okmulgee, Oklahoma, the heart of the Mvskoke Creek Nation. ONABEN provided our signature two-day entrepreneurial training in partnership with the tribe’s emerging CDFI. With each of these trainings, I find myself encouraged by the growing interest in entrepreneurship throughout Indian Country.

Just as inspiring are the kinds of business ideas that are presented by our participants. So many of the ideas shared embody the definition of social entrepreneurship. The desire to give back to and the desire to fill needs in our Native communities is a dominant trait in every community that I have had the pleasure of working with in Indian Country. Just this week in the Creek Nation, I heard a business idea that presented ways to reintroduce people in recovery into the workforce. Another business idea grappled with ways to encourage youth entrepreneurship in the community. I was just in heaven! How amazing to work in this industry, to be introduced to so many different Native cultures, and to be welcomed by Native peoples representing so many unique Native American tribes. Also, how gratifying to see Native people striving to become the change they wish to see in their communities. Good times…Amazing experiences.

Betty Maney 1 (Cherokee Artist Betty Maney)

Next week, our team will be traveling to North Carolina to work with a group of Eastern Band Cherokee artists from what is referred to as the Qualla Boundary. I love working in this community. Our partner, Sequoyah Fund, is a local, Native CDFI and a real gem! Going to Cherokee is like going home….comfortable, easy, and always inviting. You may be wondering what role ONABEN and Sequoyah Fund play with these artists? This particular project, which is funded by the Administration for Native Americans (ANA), allows us to work with this community for three years total. We are working to assist a group of contemporary, Native artists to expand their audiences and to create an awareness of their individual, unique expressions of art. If you happen to be in North Carolina next week, please do attend our first event to market these artists, which will take place on Tuesday, July 15, at the Asheville Chamber of Commerce….yet, another partnership we have forged to further our initiative. Without partners, our work would be so much more difficult and probably a lot less enjoyable. How fortunate ONABEN is to have so many friends to help us further our mission!

I simply cannot wait to update you on our event next week! No worries if you are unable to make it as we will be sharing pictures and video. I can’t even express how excited I am about our work in North Carolina, which has come together so well! Please view the Facebook page entitled “Authentically Cherokee” that April, from the ONABEN team, created to help market the artists and our work there – the page is new, but is beginning to take shape!

As always, I welcome your ideas and comments. I look forward to having a dialogue about how ONABEN can be helpful to your business, organization, or community. I can be reached via e-mail at veronica@onaben.org and also via phone at 503-968-1500. I look forward to hearing from you!

“Talk” soon! V.

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