Here is a round-up of business news briefs from around Indian Country.
• Two Native Americans — Tracy Canard Goodluck (Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, Mvskoke Creek) and Joel West Williams (Cherokee Nation) — have joined the leadership team at the Bureau of Indian Affairs within the U.S. Department of the Interior. Goodluck will serve as senior adviser to the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs. Most recently, she completed details at the White House’s Domestic Policy Council and Council on Native American Affairs. Goodluck also previously served as deputy director of the Interior Department’s Indian Water Rights Office. Williams was tapped to serve as deputy solicitor for Indian Affairs. Most recently, he worked as an attorney for the Native American Rights Fund and has prior experience as assistant counsel with the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office of General Counsel and senior legislative officer with the Cherokee Nation.
• Judi gaiashkibos, the executive director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs an enrolled member of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, received the 2022 Nebraskan of the Year honor from the Rotary Club of Lincoln, according to a report in the Journal Star. The award recognizes a Nebraskan for distinguished service to others. In honoring gaiashkibos, Rotary Club highlighted her work as a “cultural mediator and bridge builder between government and the private sector,” which included championing state legislation to study murdered and missing Indigenous women and children and to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
• The Bureau of Indian Affairs within the U.S. Department of the Interior approved Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Home Ownership (HEARTH) Act land leasing regulations for five federally recognized tribes in California: the Karuk Tribe (residential, agriculture and business leasing), Morongo Band of Mission Indians (business and residential leasing), Northfork Rancheria of Mono Indians (business site leasing), Pala Band of Mission Indians (general leasing), and Pechanga Band of Mission Indians in California (residential leasing). According to a statement from Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland, the HEARTH Act “has opened doors of economic opportunity for Tribal Nations with approved land leasing regulations. With these approvals, these Tribal communities have had their authority to control leasing of their lands under the act restored.” The BIA said it has approved HEARTH Act leasing ordinances for 77 tribes, while eight tribes are currently awaiting secretarial action.
Arts and culture
• Native American Media Alliance announced its selection for 12 fellows as part of the 7th annual Native American TV Writers Lab, an intensive eight-week script writers workshop featuring curriculum developed by various writing professionals. The program includes daily workshops, seminars, and mentoring to help the participants develop and complete a pilot. Native American Media Alliance partners with Netflix, Amazon Studios, Cherokee Nation Film Office, Kung Fu Monkey Productions and Snowpants Productions for the program. This year’s fellows are: Jamie Brunton (Colville/Spokane), Kristen Calderon (Acjachemen/Kumeyaay), Jena Carter (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma), Benjamin Flores (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa), Charine Gonzales (San Ildefonso Pueblo), Kelli Jones (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma), Cole Randall (Muscogee Creek), Justin Reed (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation), Sabrina Saleha (Navajo), Eagle Smith (Tsimshian), Kaili Y Turner (Nipmuc), and Meilani Wenska (Native Hawaiian). “We are proud of the dozens of fellows who have come through the lab and launched incredible careers now represented on every network and streaming service.” Cara Jade Myers, director of outreach and actress in the upcoming Killers of the Flower Moon, said in a statement. “This year’s lab will host twelve talented Native writers who will lead the way for the next generation.”
• The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians has partnered with Infor, a New York City-based cloud software company, to implement CloudSuite Financials & Supply Management and d/EPM, a performance management software, for the tribe’s back office functions, according to a statement. The move modernizes San Manuel’s core financial applications, which is key as its enterprises continue to grow, including with the opening of the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nev. earlier this year. The tribe had been an Infor customer for 18 years. "We knew Infor was the right partner to help us fuel our growth because of its proven track record and commitment to investing and adding vertical depth to its ERP solutions. They understand the hospitality industry, our needs for right now and our needs for the future,” San Manuel CTO Toni Pepper said in a statement.
• Charlotte, N.C.-based CivicEye, a provider of cloud software for the public safety industry that’s backed by Native-owned venture capital firm Relevance Ventures, launched the Law Enforcement Empowerment Program (LEEP) to partner with up to 10 tribal law enforcement agencies on a free, two-year records management system pilot program. The program allows tribal law enforcement agencies access to new technology that will enable them to create incident reports, analyze crime trends, monitor drug offenses, and drive more efficient processes, according to a statement. The application period is open through May 16. “As a member of the Patawomeck tribe of Virginia, it is personally rewarding to be a part of helping tribal law enforcement communities improve their information resources and enhance their policing efforts,” Relevance Ventures General Partner Cameron Newton said in a statement. “It’s a solution to a problem that is near and dear to my heart. We are thrilled to support the LEEP effort.”
Federal 8(a) contracting
• Minneapolis, Minn.-based Makwa Global, a part of Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures, the economic development firm of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, has hired Joe Boeckx to serve as president of the federal contracting firm. Boeckx has more than 25 years of experience in industry, military, and government. As president, he will be tasked with helping to lead and grow Makwa Global’s portfolio of subsidiary operating companies, working closely with the company’s board of directors and CEO Derek Dorr. Previously, Boeckx served as executive vice president for business development at Tenax Aerospace, where he led the Airborne-ISR portfolio. Boeckx had previous stints at Alaska Native-owned Akima, as well as Leidos and BAE Systems. “I am thrilled to be joining the talented team at Makwa Global,” Boeckx said in a statement. “This organization is geared for substantial growth and well positioned to become a significant business contributor to the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.”
• Mount Pleasant, Mich.-based Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, the gaming enterprise of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, has launched iGaming and online sports betting via technology from Irvine, Calif.-based GAN Limited (Nasdaq: GAN), according to a statement. Under the agreement, Soaring Eagle will use GAN Limited’s GameSTACK enterprise software platform for its app-based online wagering. Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort includes a 210,000-square-foot casino, thousands of slot machines and a variety of floor games. “We are excited to leverage GAN’s proven technical capability, product offering and marketing performance in the State of Michigan to support our iGaming and online sports betting now operational on PlayEagle.com,” Soaring Eagle CEO Melinda Coffin said in a statement. “GAN’s enterprise software and marketing expertise will help drive improved adoption and retention of our online offering for current and future players and we look forward to seeing the newly-launched online business complement our established retail gaming business in the coming years.”
• Pala Casino Spa Resort, the gaming venture of the Pala Band of Mission Indians in Pala, Calif., detailed a $25 million investment in air quality at the property, including a new Trane Synexis air cleaning and purification system. The non-disruptive technology uses dry hydrogen peroxide and UV light to reportedly kill various molds, bacteria and viruses, including 99 percent of COVID-19. “The extreme reduction of microbial threats through using this technology will help keep everyone safe at all times, both on the casino floor and in all other areas of Pala Casino Spa Resort,” Pala Casino Spa Resort spokesperson Coley McAvoy said in a statement.
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