Tribes' economic futures bright
BY BARRY W. BRANDON
Thursday, November 29, 2012
11/29/12 at 3:25 AM
Indian Country today is experiencing a long-overdue resurgence, welcome after decades marked by economic hardship and crushing poverty. Indian Country's recovery has been fueled in large part by the resilience and creativity that Native Americans have embodied even in the harshest of economic circumstances.
Our ancestors showed us by example how to be resilient as they lived and flourished for centuries across our vast continent. Tribal nation resiliency continued to be evident through periods of extermination and termination. Many tribes were removed from their homelands and pushed to remote corners of the United States. Yet, somehow tribes found a way to survive and hold onto what little was left.
Today, that resilience is best exemplified as Indian Country develops cutting edge methods for bringing financial development and the creation of jobs to their respective tribes.
Nowhere is the evidence of economic resiliency more readily seen than right here in Tulsa, where the National Center for American Indian Economic Development (NCAIED) held its first regional Reservation Economic Summit (RES) earlier this month.
RES Oklahoma represented a major, region-by-region expansion of the summit program under the thoughtful stewardship of president Gary Davis. This is a major achievement and a sure signal that we have truly begun to move from a reliance on the federal government to self-determination and taking control of our economic future.
The Native American Financial Services Association (NAFSA) was created to help advance opportunity through the creation and management of e-commerce solutions that have amplified by orders of magnitude the economic independence and sovereign leadership of so many tribes across the country.
Where many find it unfeasible or impossible to rely on casinos for development funding, these innovative e-commerce solutions provide pathways to prosperity. As representatives of NAFSA, we are excited to share news of the accomplishments we are making in Indian Country.
One of our greatest successes is happening right here in Oklahoma, where the Otoe-Missouria are pioneering practices that tribes can emulate. Thus far, these advances - made primarily through online lending programs - have allowed the Otoe-Missouria to invest in businesses that create jobs and break the cycle of poverty and dependence.
We thank our brothers and sisters who are committed to progress. The capability to direct our own futures and defend the interest of economic development in Indian Country is profoundly important, and together, we are making a visible impact.
This economic revolution - and the hope it brings - is the modern embodiment of the resilience that Native Americans have epitomized here in Oklahoma for thousands of years.
Our futures are bright, and opportunities for the future are boundless, thanks to our hard work and ingenuity.
Barry W. Brandon is executive director of the Native American Financial Services Association (NAFSA) and a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Tribe.
Barry W. Brandon: As representatives of NAFSA, we are excited to share news of the accomplishments we are making in Indian Country