Today, we are launching a new digital media site called Tribal Business News. In the middle of a pandemic. In a year when media companies are struggling and, in some cases, going belly up.
Some might say, “What are you thinking?”
But my Native relatives and friends get it. Oftentimes, this is how it goes in Indian Country.
As founder and editor of the general news publication Native News Online, I’ve witnessed the resilience of tribes and learned many lessons over the past 10 years. When it comes to tribal enterprises, there is often a recurring theme: Doing business anywhere is a challenge, but it’s even more challenging in Indian Country.
Tribal leaders and advisers know the obstacles tribes and their members face when building tribal enterprises: the patchwork of federal laws, bureaucratic red tape, limited access to capital and the fact that most people are unfamiliar with what’s involved in operating a business in Indian Country. And that was before COVID-19.
We believe Tribal Business News can help remove some of those hurdles. An online publication (for now), TBN will highlight what tribes are doing to build their economies as well as the strategies and innovations they’re using to overcome challenges. We’ll bring you thoughtfully reported and well-crafted stories about Native entrepreneurs, M&A, expansions, best practices, economic data, government policy and other relevant business news.
Our goal is to make Tribal Business News required reading for tribal council members and the leaders of tribal enterprises. But we also want to make it a first stop for state and federal legislators, policymakers, economic developers, entrepreneurs, bankers, lawyers and anyone interested in doing business in Indian Country. We want to educate and connect Natives and non-Natives in the interest of building opportunities for tribal self-reliance. And we want to give tribes a voice when decisions are being made that affect American Indian and Alaska Native businesses.
Above all, we want to change the narrative about Indian Country. For many, tribal gaming is the first thing that comes to mind when economic development in Indian Country is mentioned. But the $130 billion tribal economy is more than casinos. It’s agriculture and energy, manufacturing and real estate, technology and tourism, and much more. And it’s happening across the country — from southeast Florida where you’ll find the Seminole Nation, owners of the globally famous Hard Rock brand, all the way up to northern Alaska, home of the $3.4 billion Native-owned Arctic Slope Corporation.
Like the majority of businesses around the country, tribal enterprises and Native owned businesses have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be writing about how they’re coping and pivoting and re-imagining themselves to survive and, eventually, thrive. We’ll cover the news, but also dig into the strategies and best practices that tribes are employing to bounce back as the economy recovers. Most of all, we’ll share stories and research to help you navigate these trying times and difficult conditions.
As we get started, we need your support. Send your news, comments, suggestions and story ideas. Consider a paid subscription. Talk to us.